Zimbabwe facing Covid-19-induced hunger

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THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) and World Food Programme’s (WFP) latest early warning analysis of acute food security hotspots has placed Zimbabwe among top 25 countries set to face devastating hunger in coming months due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This comes as over eight million people in the country were already food insecure owing to the worsening economic woes and recurrent droughts.

In their latest report, Fao and WFP indicated that the pandemic was impacting an already critical food security situation in Zimbabwe emanating from the ongoing macroeconomic crisis and consecutive years of drought, adding that this would result in a further increase in the number of food-insecure people.

“The country (Zimbabwe) endured one of the driest seasons on record, leading to significant cereal deficits for a second year in a row.

“The economic impact of the pandemic is already observed through further currency depreciation, inflation, with food inflation standing at 953,5 percent as of May 2020, an increase from 685 percent in January 2020 according to Tradingeconomics, and loss of income and livelihoods — while projections indicate that new Covid-19 cases are still on the rise.

“Urban food insecurity is expected to rise dramatically with the impact of Covid-19, and in turn lead to an increase in malnutrition. Covid-19 mitigation measures are causing disruptions in logistics, rising import prices and income losses. Vulnerable pastoralists are significantly affected by disruption to trade routes and market closures,” read the report.

This comes at a time Zimbabwe has recorded a sharp increase in pellagra cases, with 1 061 cases registered between January and June 2020 compared to 440 over the same period last year.

The report further indicated that sectors such as social protection and social safety nets in southern African countries, including Zimbabwe, are likely to receive diminished support as governments divert resources to the unbudgeted Covid-19 health emergency response.

“Several countries have implemented a number of restrictive measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, including full and partial lockdowns.

“This is further deepening food insecurity, especially among the most vulnerable communities that have seen their incomes curtailed and coping capacity decreased as consecutive years of below-average rainfall caused reduced agricultural outputs and economic downturns.

“It is likely that the number of vulnerable people will increase and include groups typically able to cope, such as the urban poor who depend on informal employment, businesses and markets, which are now disrupted by movement restrictions and lockdowns,” further read the report.

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