• An estimated 5.5 million people in rural areas will be foodinsecure starting in January.
• Erratic and poorly distributed rainfall at the start of the rainy season in November continued into January, causing high temperatures and dryness.
• Approximately 100,000 children are estimated to be suffering from acute malnutrition in affected areas in Matabeleland North and South provinces.
INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS RESPONSE
• International Medical Corps is present in drought-prone Matabeleland North and South provinces, providing health, nutrition and WASH support in Bulilima, Mangwe, Gwanda,
Tsholotsho and Nkayi districts.
• Strong collaboration with the Ministry of Health remains critical to monitor global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates, as some districts have GAM rates higher than 5%, especially now, when Zimbabwe is at the height of the lean season.
During the January to March 2020 period, the number of food-insecure people is projected to increase to about 5.5 million, the highest number on record. This unprecedented level of food insecurity has resulted from a combination of reduced availability of grains and excessively high food prices, both of which constrain access to food. Lower harvests have not only reduced food availability for rural households, but have also cut incomes from agricultural-related activities, further compounding the negative effects of inflated food prices. Poor rainfall in the first half of the rainy season will be compounded by the forecasted below-normal rainfall in the second half (January to March). Agriculture cropping activity has thus remained below average.
Large-scale humanitarian food assistance is anticipated to improve the foodsecurity situation across the country from January through April. However, stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes are expected until the harvest in April. Currently, crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist across much of the country as a result of long-depleted own-produced stocks, below-normal household incomes and above-normal market prices. Although the Humanitarian Response Plan prioritizes large-scale humanitarian support to communities facing high food insecurity during the height of the lean season, Zimbabwe’s economic situation continues to deteriorate. Inflationary pressures continue, as prices of most commodities and services simultaneously increase, further reducing poor households’ purchasing power.
The new Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWL) notes, coins and bond notes remain in short supply in formal markets. Parallel marketexchange rates and interbank market rates for the US dollar increased by approximately 10% in December from rates in November, averaging ZWL $21.0 and ZWL $16.5 (electronic or mobile transfers and cash) to the US dollar, respectively.
The ZWL in the parallel market is selling at between 40% and 55%, affecting the poorest households, where incomes are very low and rapidly decreasing