With the peak of the 2020/21 lean season, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to continue through at least March in most areas of Matebeleland North and South, Masvingo, Midlands, Manicaland, and the extreme northern parts of the Mashonaland Provinces. In these areas, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is expected where humanitarian assistance is significant. Some northern areas covering much of the Mashonaland Provinces will most likely continue experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2), though some poor households are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
In early January, the government reinstated restriction measures to nonessential activities for 30 days as the confirmed cases of COVID-19 and associated deaths significantly increased. The measures put in place include limitations on public transport and population movement, and border closures. Most formal and informal livelihood activities were restricted besides agriculture, mining, and manufacturing businesses. As urban livelihoods are impacted the most due to limited ability to engage mainly in the informal sector, an increase in the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) population is being experienced among urban poor households.
Widespread and heavy rainfall across the country, including Tropical Storm Chalene and Tropical Cyclone Eloise during the month, has led to average to above-average cumulative rainfall from October through late January. This has resulted in favorable water availability and access and fair to good crop, pasture, and livestock conditions. However, the heavy rainfall is causing extensive soil leaching, waterlogging, poor weed control in some areas, a high risk of flooding along riverine areas, and extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure. Farmers also have difficulty accessing fertilizers due to high prices and market shortages, the latter notably with respect to top dressing fertilizers. These factors could have some impact on potential crop yields.
Despite a progressive decline since mid-2020 in the annual inflation rate, according to ZIMSTAT, annual inflation increased to 363 percent in January from 349 percent in December. The official exchange rates remain stable at around 82 ZWL/USD, with parallel market exchange rates at least 25 percent higher than official rates. This continues to drive high market prices, with the prices of most goods and services beyond the reach of poor households.