Government has remained the major provider of support to vulnerable communities in need of food assistance countrywide, the 2019 Zimbabwe Vulnerable Assessment Committee (ZimVac) report has revealed.
Of vulnerable households that received food assistance in 2018-19, 56 percent received support from the Government, 13 percent from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the United Nations (UN), three percent from churches, 16 percent was from relatives within rural areas, 18 percent was from relatives within urban areas and 11 percent was from remittances from outside the country.
The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare yesterday told The Herald that Government had already put in place Food Deficit Mitigation Programme under which vulnerable and labour constrained households receive a 50kg bag of grain per month, free of charge.
“The vulnerable and labour constrained households include child headed families, households headed the by chronically ill, and the elderly among others.
“Food insecure households which are labour endowed, will participate in either Food for Assets or Cash for Assets and community works projects. They work for five hours per day for 15 days per month and they are paid in form of either grain or cash,” said the Ministry in statement.
Although the ZimVac report noted a general decline of support from
Government in some areas, the State still remained the major source of assistance to vulnerable communities.
The ZimVac report, also noted that nationally there was a decline in the proportion of households receiving aid from Government in 2018/19 at 56 percent, compared to 67 percent that received support during 2017/18 consumption period.
During 2018/19, the highest proportion of households that received support from Government was in Midlands and Matabeleland South.
The least was in Manicaland with a total of 47 percent while Matabeleland North and Masvingo province have experienced the highest decrease of proportion receiving support from Government compared to 2018.
At least 59 percent of the rural population is projected to be food insecure at peak (January-March 2020).
“This follows poor agriculture yields by most households as a result of drought, which left many families food insecure.
“Rural food insecurity in June 2019 was estimated at 21 percent and is projected to reach 59 percent during the hunger peak. This food insecurity prevalence translates to about 5,5 million rural people .The cereal requirements at peak will be 818.323 tonnes at an estimated cost of US$217,659,752,” the report reads.
The Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report indicates that the country produced 851 844 tonnes of cereals against a national cereal requirement of 1 754 225 tonnes for human consumption and 450 000 tonnes for livestock.
The decline in food production was attributed to the poor 2018/19 summer cropping season.
The 2018/19 season was characterised by late on set of rains across the country and false starts in the southern and south- eastern parts of the country affecting crop establishment.
Cyclone Idai which hit the country mid-February caused severe damage to crops and agriculture infrastructure.
According to the ZimVac report, Matabeleland North (68 percent), Masvingo (64 percent) and Midlands (63 percent) provinces are projected to have the highest proportions of food insecure households at peak hunger period.
Matabeleland South province is projected to have the least proportions of food insecure households 49 percent.
Two districts have proportions of food insecurity above 80 percent are Binga and Chivi, nine have proportions over 70 percent, 36 between 50-70 percent and 13 have less than 50 percent of their populations having inadequate means to meet their food needs without resorting to severe livelihoods and consumption on coping strategies.
“Considering that most shocks which affected households were agro-based, there is need for multi stakeholder efforts are necessary to address challenges related to weather and climate, pests and food and nutrition security. These strategies should focus on building the resilience of communities.
“There is need to scale up community based resilience building programs to enable communities to cope with future shocks and hazards. Particular focus should be put on diversifying livelihoods including o?-farm income generating activities,” read the report.