Zimbabwe: Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 (January 2021)


Executive Summary

In 2021, 6.8 million people will need humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe, primarily due to climatic shocks and prevailing macro-economic challenges, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past year, the cost of basic commodities has significantly increased. Extreme poverty levels—using the national poverty line of purchasing power parity (PPP) US$1.8 per day—are projected to have risen to 50 percent of people (8 million) in 2020, up from 42 percent (6.6 million people) in 2019, according to the World Bank. Women, who constitute 65 per cent of the informal sector, are disproportionately affected by economic hardship.

Following relatively good 2019/2020 seasonal rains and a major scale-up in food assistance, there was a reduction in severe food insecurity in 2020 compared to 2019. However, nearly 3.4 million people in rural areas are projected to face Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or above) food insecurity during the 2020/2021 lean season (January-March), and 2.2 million people in urban communities are projected to be food insecure in 2021. Households saw an average 51.5 per cent reduction in income sources in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the ZimVAC. An estimated 1.2 million people in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) would be at least one phase worse were it not for ongoing assistance; it is vital that this assistance be continued throughout the 2020/2021 lean season.

Zimbabwe saw a sharp increase in protection concerns, including gender-based violence, in 2020.
From January to September 2020, 5,507 GBV cases were reported through the National GBV Hotline, a 200 per cent increase compared with the same timeframe in 2019.

Children have been uniquely impacted by the prevailing humanitarian situation. Over 4.6 million children lost access to education and referral mechanisms provided in schools, while over 1.7 million children lost access to school feeding programmes.

The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has caused a decrease in quality dietary habits, while access to nutrition services has been disrupted. Distressed households have reported increased use of negative coping mechanisms including child labor, early marriage and transactional sex, while economic challenges are creating barriers for children’s return to education, especially for girls.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.