According to the World Food Program (WFP), Zimbabwe is one of the 25 countries in the world that is set to suffer from devastating hunger as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and drought. The conclusions are based on an extensive study done by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and published part of the UN organ’s Early Famine Warning system.

The Southern Africa region experienced normal rainfall only once in the past five cropping seasons. In 2019, repeated extreme climatic shocks resulted in the highest peak in acute food insecurity of the
past decade. The situation is aggravated by widespread poverty, chronic malnutrition, macroeconomic shocks in countries like Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and insecurity in northern Mozambique.

COVID-19 will deepen and increase poverty and food insecurity. Constrained government resources could lead to a curtailment of public services and diminish response capacities. Critical sectors, such as social protection and social safety nets, are likely to receive diminished support as governments divert resources to the unbudgeted COVID-19 health emergency response.

…In Zimbabwe, the pandemic is impacting an already critical food-security situation resulting from the ongoing macroeconomic crisis and consecutive years of drought and is likely to result in a further
increase in the number of food-insecure people. The country 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 per cent as of May 2020, an increase from 685 per cent 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 impacts 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.

Urban dwellers abondoned

As the report notes, food insecurity is going to rise in urban areas that have been neglected by the government. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has promised to give out $300 ZWL bail out packages. Woefully inadequate as these are, they have not even materiliased. Despite claims that millions of dollars had already been handed out we could not, nor could a lot of other publications really, find out any evidence of this.

The vulnerable people who live in places like Epworth and Hopely continue to face issues when it comes to affording basic necessities and have not received anything as far as we are aware. The Finance Minister has claimed that beneficiaries will be identified using complex calculations. It seems these calculations are not good enough.