Man picking maize grains on the road sides

THE Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) says nearly 2.4 million locals living in the country’s towns and cities struggled to meet their basic food needs over the past year.

In a situational report, ZimVAC said the peak was the cause of the ripple effect of Covid-19 induced lockdowns which were aimed as preventing the rapid spread of the pandemic.

“Hunger in Zimbabwe’s urban areas has increased over the past year with 2.4 million people now struggling to meet their basic food needs,” reads the report in part.

The report was coordinated by the Food and Nutrition Council.

“The lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 have dealt a severe blow to poor urban communities, many of whose members were daily wage earners living from hand to mouth.

“While unable to find work in cities, the ban on travel has meant that seasonal employment in rural areas is no longer an option.

“With work opportunities disappearing, the recent report states that 42% of urban households will not be able to meet their cereal requirements this year compared to approximately 30% for the same period in 2019.

Added the report, “There has been a sharp decline in the standard of living across poor urban communities in Zimbabwe with 83% of urban households now below the cost of the minimum expected food items such as mealie meal, salt and cooking oil compared to 76.8% in 2019.

“One of the challenges faced by the urban households were sharp price increases of basic commodities while the purchasing power of the Zimbabwe dollar has been eroded by inflation and negative economic effects of Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population is in need of food aid, adding that about 2.3 million urban dwellers are also in need of assistance.

“More than half of Zimbabweans in the rural areas are left no alternative but to skip meals, reduce portion size or sell off precious belongings in order to cope.

“We are deeply concerned that if WFP does not receive enough funding to reach the four million people it intends to, families will be further pushed to the limit,” said Francesca Erdelmann, WFP Zimbabwe’s representative recently.

Apparently, the United Nations also pointed out that the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions has compounded the situation in Zimbabwe.

Last year, the WFP appealed for an additional US$204 million to support over four million of the most food insecure over the next six months.