The 2021 harvest has started across the country and is improving access to own foods and agricultural labor. As a result, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present. In areas where humanitarian assistance continues, and the harvest is yet to be fully available, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes persist. During the post-harvest period from June to September, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected across the country. Urban areas are expected to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least September as poor households are likely to have below-average purchasing power primarily due to low income and high food and non-food prices.
The government reported 2.7 million MT of maize production for the 2020/21 season, nearly 200 percent higher than last year and 130 percent above average. The tobacco marketing season opened in early April, with cotton sales expected to start in midMay. With above-average river flow and interior dam levels, the latter averaging over 90 percent full nationally as of mid-April, above normal water availability for winter cropping and other agricultural, urban, and livelihood uses is expected. This is expected to improve income sources.
Though most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, residual impacts of the lockdown continue on top of the macroeconomic challenges, driving continued below-average food access, mainly among poor urban households. As land borders remain closed to non-essential goods and services, a high proportion of households and small-scale businesses in the informal sector continue to be impacted due to the limited supply of cheaper imported goods and below-average income from sources such as remittances, informal transport and courier services, and petty trade. Though COVID-19 infections are low and recovery rates high, the recent upward trend in cases predominately from schools could spark a third wave of nationwide cases.
As the cost of living increases, this is driving below-average purchasing power for many households due to low income. While the official inflation rate shows a downward trend, fuel price increases and high parallel market exchange rates continue to drive general price increases. High transport costs, poor transport services, and rainfall-damaged roads continue to negatively impact household access to markets and some livelihood activities across parts of the country.