Ru­ral food inse­cu­rity set to worsen

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili

FOOD inse­cu­rity lev­els are ris­ing in ru­ral ar­eas and are ex­pected to reach 42 per­cent by the end of March next year, the worst of its kind since 2009.

About 4 mil­lion peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas of Zim­babwe will need food aid be­tween Jan­uary and March next year and the Gov­ern­ment in­tends to con­duct an­other food as­sess­ment in ur­ban ar­eas to de­ter­mine food re­quire­ments for city dwellers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe Vul­ner­a­bil­ity As­sess­ment Com­mit­tee (Zim­vac) 2016 Ru­ral Liveli­hoods As­sess­ment sur­vey, food short­ages in ru­ral ar­eas will con­tinue to worsen un­til the be­gin­ning of the next har­vest­ing sea­son.

Zim­vac’s 2016 sur­vey re­vealed that hunger lev­els in­creased from six per­cent be­tween April and June to 23 per­cent from July to Septem­ber.

The fig­ures are ex­pected to go up to 35 per­cent by the end of De­cem­ber be­fore shoot­ing up to 42 per­cent by March next year, leav­ing mil­lions in need of food aid.

“Ru­ral food inse­cu­rity for the pe­riod April to June 2016 was es­ti­mated at 6 per­cent and is pro­jected to reach 42 per­cent dur­ing the peak hunger pe­riod (Jan­uary to March 2017). This is the high­est ru­ral food inse­cu­rity preva­lence es­ti­mated since 2009. As ex­pected, there is a pro­gres­sive in­crease in the pro­por­tion of food in­se­cure house­holds as the con­sump­tion year pro­gresses to­wards the peak hunger pe­riod,” reads the report.

“The 2015/16 and 2016/17 have been con­sec­u­tive poor­est con­sump­tion years since 2009,” the report fur­ther states.

Zim­vac said the El-Nino in­duced drought was the ma­jor fac­tor in­creas­ing food inse­cu­rity lev­els.

“There is an in­verse re­la­tion­ship be­tween lev­els of ce­real crop production and food inse­cu­rity. When crop production is low, lev­els of food inse­cu­rity are high and vice versa which demon­strates the sig­nif­i­cant im­pact of ce­real har­vest on the food ac­cess in the ma­jor­ity of ru­ral house­holds in the coun­try. Ce­real production dur­ing the pre­vi­ous El-Nino years (2002 and 2008) at around 600 000 met­ric tonnes is com­pa­ra­ble to that for 2016,” reads the report.

Mata­bele­land North’s Binga and Umguza dis­tricts are among the se­verely affected ar­eas as food inse­cu­rity is ex­pected to reach 79 and 75 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion re­spec­tively.

Mata­bele­land South’s Ma­tobo Dis­trict is the only dis­trict from the re­gion fall­ing in the clus­ter of those with the low­est food inse­cu­rity lev­els.-@nqot­shili

Storm clouds gather above the Bu­l­awayo Cen­tral Busi­ness Dis­trict re­cently. The city and its en­vi­rons des­per­ately need rain so that the crit­i­cally low wa­ter lev­els in its sup­ply dams im­prove

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