Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook Update, December 2019

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Large scale-up of humanitarian assistance to improve food security through the peak of the lean season

Key Messages

Large-scale humanitarian food assistance is anticipated to improve the food security situation across the country from January through April. As a result, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes are expected until the harvest in April 2020. Currently, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist across much of the country as a result of long-depleted own-produced stocks, below normal household incomes, and above normal market prices. Atypical food security outcomes are expected with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) present in the post-harvest period in high production areas and in typical deficit production areas Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected.

Erratic and poorly distributed mid-November rainfall marked the start of the 2019/20 season. The poor rainfall was followed by three weeks of very high temperatures and dryness through the first week of December. This affected agricultural activities and other livelihoods across the country. Despite rainfall resuming during the second week of December, area planted for the 2019/20 season is expected to be significantly below average. The poor rainfall performance during the first half of the season will be compounded by the forecasted below normal rainfall during the second half (January to March 2020) of the rainy season.

Inflationary pressures continue as prices of most commodities and services increase; further reducing poor households’ purchasing power. The government re-introduced the maize meal subsidy following the near doubling of prices at the end of November after the government had indicated plans to remove the subsidy in January 2020. Maize meal shortages are being experienced across most areas following the announcement with prices yet to return to levels prior to the subsidy announcement in most areas. Most markets, even in typical surplus production areas, are without maize grain, increasing demand for maize meal and contributing to the high maize meal prices.

Seasonal livelihood activities such as casual labor for land preparation, planting, and weeding are significantly below normal. Drought-related cattle deaths continue due to poor livestock conditions, affecting incomes and draught power. Distress livestock sales are common as households seek to earn some income instead of losing their stock. Other livelihood activities such as remittances, petty trade, and self-employment remain subdued due to on-going economic challenges.