Situation in Numbers
1.5 million people facing food and nutrition insecurity during the period January-March 2016 (ZimVAC, July 2015)
16,614 SAM children treated between Jan-Nov 2015 (NHMIS, 2015)
28,771 drought affected people reached with hygiene promotion to prevent water and sanitation related diseases (UNICEF, 2016)
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a drought following below average rainfall during the 2014/2015 season. Based on the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) results of 2015, approximately 16% of rural households, and almost 1.5 million people are reported to be food insecure during the current peak hunger season running from January-March 2016, representing a rise of 160 per cent compared to the 2013– 2014 peak hunger season.
The current El Niño event is negatively impacting the agricultural season in the country as it has caused significant deficits in cumulative rainfall between October and January. As of late January most of the country had not received any significant rains and dry conditions were persisting. This will result in a protracted food and nutrition insecurity situation.
According to a national assessment conducted in May 2015, severe acute malnutrition among children under five years varied from 0.8 % to 5.5 % per province with the national average being 2.3 %, up from 1.5% in 2014.
In 2015, UNICEF received Emergency funding of US$ 1,732,576 from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) to implement drought response interventions in highly food insecure districts.
The interventions are reaching 65,000 people with WASH services and 33,012 pregnant and lactating women and children under five through the provision of lifesaving nutrition interventions and care.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a drought following a low seasonal rainfall and a second year of failed rains in most locations. Based on the results of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) of 2015, approximately 16% of rural households and almost 1.5 million people are reported to be food insecure during the current peak hunger season (January-March, 2016). The current El Niño event is negatively influencing the rainfall and agricultural season. As of late January, most of the country had not received any significant rains and dry conditions were persisting. The impact on agriculture is likely to be severe, particularly following from last year’s poor season. The eroded productive capacity of vulnerable farming households and the low national cereal stocks will result in a significant increase in food and nutrition insecurity, including the probability of even higher rates of malnutrition especially in the most food insecure districts. In May 2015, the Food and Nutrition Council of the Government of Zimbabwe carried out the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment. The results showed that severe acute malnutrition (SAM) among children under five years varied from 0.8 % to 5.5 % per province with the national average being 2.3 %, up from 1.5% last year (Fig, 1). Only Midlands, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo provinces had a reduction in SAM. However, Midlands and Masvingo provinces still remain at risk of SAM due to the prevalence of food insecurity in the provinces. There is therefore a critical need to manage increased cases of severe acute malnutrition among children aged 6-59 months in the most affected districts to save lives.
The current drought situation has resulted in reduced water yields from the few functioning boreholes, exacerbating the risk to water-borne diseases especially diarrhoea and cholera. According to statistical information available from the past 3 years1 , in the provinces of Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central where the 10 most food insecure districts are located, access to improved water sources ranged from 63% - 74%. However, information on the status of water sources in 6 of the most food insecure districts collected weekly through RapidPro shows a decline in functional water sources (attributed to drying up and other faults) from 62% in April 2015 to 51% in January 2016.
Government departments, UN Agencies and NGO Partners are conducting a multi-sectoral rapid assessment in all the 60 rural districts of the country under the leadership of the Food and Nutrition Council (FNC). The main objective of this assessment is to determine the current impact of the drought so as to inform ongoing and planned interventions. UNICEF is providing technical, logistical and financial support, which is aimed at facilitating nutrition assessments targeted at children under five. The multi-sectoral rapid assessment will focus on drought impact on the following sectors: Agriculture and Food Security, Health and Nutrition, WASH, Education, Social Protection and Child Protection.