The assessment was undertaken as a follow up to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2015 Rural Livelihoods Assessment (RLA) conducted in June which identified about 16% of the rural population (approximately 1,5 million people) as food insecure during the lean period. One of the key recommendations from the RLA report is the need to promote the use of cash-based transfer modalities in order to promote the local economy where feasible when responding to the needs of the food insecure households. This assessment was conducted in 50 districts identified in the RLA as having high food insecurity with the objective of assessing the feasibility of undertaking cash or voucher based interventions. Specifically, the assessment focused on assessing markets and traders’ capacity and ability to supply food commodities (maize grain, maize meal, sugar beans and cooking oil) in a timely manner and in enough volumes so as not to cause stock outs and price surges.
The country registered a 49% decrease in cereal production (2014/15) as compared to last season’s harvest and a 39% decrease compared to the five year average. All 60 rural districts have been affected.
The total number of food insecure at the peak of this year’s lean season in Zimbabwe is estimated at 1,490,024 (250,000 households). The anticipated duration of assistance to the affected people varies from 4 to 7 months.
Cereal imports to meet domestic requirements are 1,069,171Mt with 691,171Mt of cereals for human consumption and 378,000Mt of cereal for animal feed.
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) is planning to import 750,000Mt over 10 months from Zambia (500,000Mt) and South Africa (250,000Mt) pending Government of Zimbabwe’s approval
The 2015 Market Assessment was commissioned by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee with WFP as funder of the exercise and as main technical coordinator. Other Agencies which participated in the exercise were FNC, MoAMID,
MoPSLSW, FEWSNET, OXFAM GB, Red Cross Zimbabwe, Save the Children Zimbabwe, DCA and FAO.
The main purpose of the market assessment was to determine market capacity and functionality during the 2015-16 consumption year as well as proposing districts where the cash and vouchers intervention modality would be possible.
The assessment employed primary and secondary data sources to gather its data.
Structured trader and key informant questionnaires were used to collect the primary data while key stakeholder discussions were carried out to obtain information from national and regional level market actors.
A total of 415 markets (see figure 6) from 50 Districts (see table 2) were assessed.
From these markets, 35 wholesalers, 80 medium and 1196 retail traders were interviewed using a structured questionnaire.
Cash is a viable option for at least 33 of the 50 districts. In these districts direct cash would seem to suffice and the market will ensure that adequate food is available at an average price level for the season.
6 of the 50 districts were confirmed as Cash with Reservations districts. This indicates that cash is possible in these Districts as long as a number of steps are undertaken to mitigate the potential risks which have been outlined by the ZimVAC Modality Selection Session a summary of which is found in Annex 2.
Both cash and food in kind were recommended in 6 districts. These districts show that cash is possible in the more accessible areas within the district however that in-kind is required for the more difficult to reach areas as it is not certain that the market will ensure availability of the required food commodities at an affordable cost to the most vulnerable local population.
In-kind distributions were recommended in 4 out of the 50 districts as the markets were found not to be suitable for cash distributions. 1 district was recommended for vouchers.
Key variables considered for transfer modality selection were: capacity of markets to supply adequate amount of food basket commodities against the requirements, road quality, strength of mobile network, number of traders and their trade volume size, traders’ ability to absorb additional demand, food price stability, historical trade trends, previous intervention modality experience in the district, security and contextual factors.
Main constraints identified by the interviewed traders to double the current business were lack of trader capital and lack of consumer liquidity. High transport costs as well as competition from other traders were also identified as minor constraints.