Zimbabwe Key Message Update, May 2019
Poor households face increasing difficulty accessing food following further price increases
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes persist across most of the country mainly due to the poor 2018/19 harvests and escalating macroeconomic hardships. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes prevail in semi-arid areas where humanitarian assistance continues to mitigate outcomes. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are anticipated to emerge in June across the country, but will most likely be temporary as poor households’ food stocks are expected to last only three to four months. By September, most of the country is expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Following the government’s removal of fuel subsidies on May 20, fuel prices increased by nearly 50 percent. Transport fares rose by up to 100 percent for some routes as fuel shortages continue. Immediately following the fuel price increases, the currency devalued by 33 percent on the official interbank market while parallel market exchange rates devalued even further. This triggered further food and non-food commodity price increases. Official annual inflation for April was 75.86 percent up from 66.8 percent in March.
The Ministry of Agriculture second round crop production estimates indicate the 2018/19 maize production is about 776,600 MT, 59 percent of the five-year average. As market demand for maize grain remains high, maize prices continue to atypically increase in most markets for this time of year due to the poor harvest and deteriorating economic environment. Poor households, most of whom did not have a harvest and/or exhausted own-produced foods already, will increasingly face difficulties accessing market foods.
Most poor households across the country have below-average incomes from crop and livestock sales as a result of the poor performance of the 2018/19 rainy season and macroeconomic challenges. Limited water availability and access, especially in semi-arid parts of the country, is impacting self-employment activities such as brick molding, construction, and gold panning. Increasing macroeconomic hardships will continue to affect casual labor, remittances, petty trade, and other livelihood and coping activities, thus decreasing household purchasing power.