• Since 2011, Zimbabwe’s Gross Domesc Product growth rate has been declining from a high of 11.9% to 1.5% in 2015. It was esmated at 0.6% in 2016 but is now projected to rise to 3.7% in 2017 and to taper off slightly to 3.4% in 2018 mainly on the back of improved performance of the agricultural sector (Ministry of Finance, 2017; World Bank, 2017).
• Year on year inflaon rate has been in the negave for the whole of 2016 but has accelerated into the posive, from -0.7% in January 2017 to 0.5% in April 2017. The increase in annual headline inflaon was mainly driven by food inflaon (ZIMSTAT, 2017).
• Decent and secure employment remain subdued and the economy connues to be gripped in the throes of deep and widespread cash shortages that have mainly arisen from sustained higher imports against lower export earnings. As of May 2017, the country was experiencing a cash shortage of USD347 million, which is an improvement from an average shortage of USD450 million experienced during the greater part of 2016 (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, 2017).
• The ZimSTAT 2011/2012 Poverty Income and Consumpon Survey esmated 76% of rural households to be poor and 23% were deemed extremely poor. This situaon is likely to have worsened given the economic performance in the intervening period up to 2016.
• The normal to above normal 2016/17 rainfall season, coming aer a devastang El Nino induced drought, coupled with support from both Government and the Private sector through the Special Maize Programme as well as other supporve iniaves such as contract farming had a posive impact on the agriculture sector.
• Given the importance of the agricultural sector to rural livelihoods as well as the Zimbabwean economy, this significant improvement in the agricultural sector denotes improvements in rural livelihoods in general.
• Most dams in the seven catchment areas were full and spilling over. Average naonal dam levels as at 5 May 2017 were 81.3%, up from 71.5% reported in February (Zimbabwe Naonal Water Authority, 2017).