Many families from drought-prone Matabeleland South are facing hunger and starvation as their available food stocks have dropped sharply.
According to a Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2021 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report, fifty per cent of households in Matabeleland South have less than three months’ supply of food stocks.
The government says Matabeleland South’s Social Welfare office will next week identify potential beneficiaries of the food relief programme set to resume in October after being suspended in April.
In the latest update on Tuesday, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net) warned that household food access in “deficit areas” was declining as “own produced food stocks become exhausted”. The Fews Net report read:
In typical deficit-producing areas, households’ own-produced food stocks are depleting with some poor households having already exhausted their stocks. Stressed (integrated food security phase classification (IPC Phase 2) outcomes continue in these areas with crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected to emerge in October as more households likely rely on markets for food.
Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected across surplus-producing areas, though some areas will deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with the progression of the lean season. Most urban areas are anticipated to remain stressed (IPC phase 2) throughout the outlook period due to continue below-average purchasing power.
The IPC phases describe households’ food security levels with IPC phase five identified as a situation where families are facing extreme food shortages.
The report noted that the food shortages in the region were being compounded by the high cost of living in the country, and consecutive years of drought in recent years.
Fews added that pasture and livestock conditions, especially cattle, are also deteriorating due to compounding effects of previous droughts, including poor regeneration of grasses.