AN international food security monitoring agency has warned of severe food shortages in the next few months due to erratic rains this season and the general spike in the cost of living, with the poor and middle-income households most vulnerable.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/JAIROS SAUNYAMA
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) said food insecurity has been further compounded by the harsh economic environment and high unemployment rate obtaining in the country.
“The continued macro-economic challenges have eroded rural and urban livelihoods to the point that an increasing number of poor households will continue to face food and livelihood deficits from January to April, as well as some middle and better-off households,” Fewsnet said in its food situation update for this month.
Fewsnet said livestock conditions continue to deteriorate in arid areas due to unavailability of water and pasture, with diseases decimating herds around the country, thus affecting livelihoods.
“The late start of the season and low rainfall amounts are likely to result in lower than normal cropped areas this season, poor seed germination, water stress for crops – all factors that would indicate a likelihood of below-average production in several parts of the country,” the agency warned.
Zimbabweans are struggling to buy basic commodities that have been priced beyond reach as inflation spikes and the surrogate bond note currency tumbles.
Last week, Zimbabweans went on a nationwide protest over the dire economic situation.
Meanwhile, Public Works, Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza has said close to 700 000 households are in dire need of food assistance.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), a Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee team came to my office and told me that about 661 000 households face hunger, this is just a number. As government, we have established drought relief committees that will identify the most vulnerable members of the community to be given food assistance,” she said, on the sidelines of a donation to hailstorm victims in Maramba-Pfungwe yesterday.
Nzenza revealed that government has engaged the United Nations and will meet other key partners to assist in mitigating against hunger in the country.