Food Security Outlook Update

Assistance improves food security situation

December 2012

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The rainy season has started in most parts of the country. Many areas have received at least 50 mm of rains since October and crop cultivation is underway. Areas in Hwange and Beitbridge districts in Matebeleland North and South received significant rains and this is expected to improve pasture conditions and water availability for livestock.

  • Most rural poor and very households across the country are meeting their livelihood protection needs through humanitarian assistance that is being provided through seasonal targeted assistance (STA), along with social safety-net programming.

  • Throughout much of the country food insecurity is Minimal (IPC Phase 1) because households are able to access maize through market purchases, humanitarian assistance, and cash transfer programs.

Current Situation

  • Rural poor and very poor households continue to meet their food needs through humanitarian assistance programming, including seasonal targeted assistance, as well as the Grain Loan Scheme. There is also a cash transfer program that is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Welfare that targets poor and vulnerable rural households. 
  • Due to the presence of adequate humanitarian support and social safety-net programming, the majority of rural households are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes.
  • Maize grain and maize meal remain available in local markets and prices contine to rise in south-western districts, which is typical during this time of the year. Prices in some areas are higher than average, including Rushinga and Mudzi districts where maize grain prices are on average 25 and 16 percent higher, respectively, when compared to the same time last year.
  • The rainy season has started and most districts have received at least 50 mm of rain since October (Figure 3).
  • Areas that have recorded the highest percentage of normal rainfall include Hwange, Mukandi, Beitbridge, Gokwe, and Henderson districts. The above-normal rainfall received in selected districts of Hwange and Beitbridge in Matebeleland North and South are expected to impove pasture conditions and water availability for livestock.
  • Although crop cultivation has started in most districts and seeds and other inputs are available on the market, very poor and poor households do not have sufficient cash to access seeds and input.
  • Poor households that are unable to access seeds and input are expected to benefit from the ongoing government agriculture input scheme. This input program is currently being implemented across the country, though it is experiencing some delays due to logical challenges. 
  • Additionally, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continues to provide agricultural input support to 80,400 households in 28 districts.
  • The start of the cropping season is providing casual labor opportunities across the country. Payment for cropping and weeding is mostly both in cash and in-kind. In Mudzi and northern parts of Nyanga districts, casual labor rates are currently USD $3 per day, which is lower than the USD $4 per day rate during this same period last year. 

Updated Assumptions

The current situation has not changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of November 2012 to March 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the November Outlook. 

Projected Outlook through March 2013

  • Food security will remain stable in most parts of the country due to consistent and sufficient supply of humanitarian assistance, especially through the WFP STA program. Most poor and very poor households are expected to meet their food survival and livelihood protection needs through STA which is expected to provide full rations to a total of 1.6 million beneficiaries during the peak lean season from January – March 2013. The government Grain Loan Scheme is also expected to provide additional support but its coverage may be affected by limited grain stocks in the grain marketing board. Due to the presence of humanitarian support, the majority of the rural households including those in south-western districts will experience no or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes.
  • Both maize grain and maize meal are expected to be available in markets and the main source of supply will be imports from Zambia, South Africa, and Botswana. Due to expected price increases during the peak of the lean season, most poor and very poor households will not have sufficient cash to access maize grain and maize meal through market purchases. 
  • During the peak of the lean season terms of trade are expected to deteriorate due to the decline of livestock prices. Remmitances are also expected to play an important role in providing cash to poor and very poor households.
  • Based on the December 2012 SARCOF seasonal update, southern and northern parts of Zimbabwe are likely to receive normal-to-above normal rainfall for the January to March period. This is likely to have a positive impact on crop quality and production levels, and the arrival of the green harvest is expected to remain normal. As the expected rainfall improves pastures, livestock conditions and milk production will likely improve during the outlook period.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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