THE majority of rural Zimbabweans, are now surviving on an average of $1 a day to buy food, as the country battles increasing food insecurity levels.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
According to latest statistics provided by Zimbabwe National Statistics (Zimstat), the food poverty datum line for one person at the end of January 2016 stood at $31, translating to about $1,03 a day for food.
This comes amid reports by government and United Nations agencies that about four million people require urgent food aid following this year’s poor summer cropping season, where most crops failed due to excessive heat coupled with erratic rains.
The figures were confirmed by USAID country director, Stephanie Funk in an emailed response to NewsDay last Friday.
“USAID is committed to ending extreme poverty worldwide by 2030. In Zimbabwe, Zimstat calculates the threshold for extreme poverty at $31 per month for an individual, or about $1 per day (as of January 2016). USAID is working in a number of ways to expand inclusive and sustainable economic opportunities so that fewer Zimbabweans are living below the poverty line,” she said.
“USAID characterises extreme poverty as the inability to meet basic needs on a sustainable basis.
Based on our observations, while working in the rural areas, the economic situation, combined with the drought, has increased poverty, and it is a dire situation for many families. One of our experts called this ‘the drought of the decade’.”
She said the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee estimated that 2,8 million Zimbabweans, nearly a third of the rural population, required urgent food aid.
Recently, a Zimstat poverty survey revealed that high poverty levels were recorded in Matebeleland North (85,7%) while the least prevalent has been Harare at 36,4% and Bulawayo at 37,2%.
Districts with the highest poverty prevalent rates are Nkayi 95, 6%, Lupane 92,9%, Gokwe South 90,9%, and Mudzi 90%.
High unemployment and low access to disposable income, inadequate policies, and liquidity challenges were cited as causing the slow response time to drought.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema has called for urgency in addressing challenges posed by drought.
“We have to shift from conferencing to actual insuring, let’s have the timing and the actual doing. We need numbers that attest to our doing rather than the talking and cannot emphasize it enough.
We want more and we want to hear that money is sinking in rather than buying cars for people to drive,” she said.