HARARE – Zimbabwe’s goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 is off-target, according to a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report by United Nations.
The MDGs comprise eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015.
Of the eight MDGs, the government of Zimbabwe has identified goals one, three and six as of national priority.
“The status and trends for MDG 1 are negative and Zimbabwe can halt and reverse the increasing levels of poverty, hunger and malnutrition by undertaking the support of the land reform policy.
“Pursuing economic transformation by deepening economic reforms in the medium and long- term through productivity and inclusive growth will also help with the MDG status and trends,” reads the report.
It states that a key constraint impeding progress towards the realisation of MDG 1 in Zimbabwe is the need to address the land reform issue as one of the drivers for national agricultural revitalisation, given the large numbers of people who are economically-dependent on agriculture.
The report acknowledges that addressing the land tenure system for both communal and commercial farms, including property rights would facilitate investment and accessibility to bank credits.
“The steep decline in agriculture had a knock-on effect in terms of the de-industrialisation experienced during the crisis period because of Zimbabwe’s strong inter-sectoral linkages between manufacturing and agriculture.
“The capacity utilisation in industry had declined to 10 percent by 2008, resulting in massive unemployment and a critical lack of basic goods and services.
“This situation contributed to increasing levels of urban poverty as the manufacturing sector could not generate jobs. Falling investments in agriculture, particularly in infrastructure and extension services, directly added to the decline in food production and the rise in poverty levels, especially in rural areas.”
Supporting the land reform policy would optimise productivity and transform small holder agriculture for the majority and enhances food security, the report says.
Meanwhile, the MDGs status report linked the rising incidence of poverty in Zimbabwe to the contraction in government’s fiscal space.
Severe budget constraints have had a debilitating effect on public expenditure on health and education and other social infrastructure.
“The national economy has lost its competitive edge and the ongoing investment climate has not been conducive to attracting new capital and investment, the report states.
Zimbabwe’s statistical indicators for health and education were once among the best in Africa.
But the political and economic crisis has brought rising poverty and social decline in its wake.”
The 2003 Poverty Assessment Study Survey II showed a substantial increase in poverty between 1990 and 2003 the poverty rate rose from 25 percent to 63 percent.
It is estimated that at least three million Zimbabweans (over 20 per cent of the population) left the country since the economic crisis started in the late 1990s.
This decline in human capital has also made it more difficult for the country to recover from the ongoing crisis, and has slowed down the delivery of social and public health services.