By Nomthandazo Gabi
ONE percent (%) of rural households received cash transfers from the Government, whilst in urban areas, the proportion that received COVID- 19 transfers (mobile money) rose from 3-10% as authorities moved to cushion vulnerable members of society as the COVID- 19 pandemic exposed millions to hunger.
ZimStat reported the above statistics in its report: “Monitoring COVID- 19 impact on Households in Zimbabwe 2020”- in rounds 1 and 2, which were reportedly triggered by a large reduction in the share of rural households food aid, which fell from 23-3%.
The statistics office also states that coverage of social assistance programs in Zimbabwe was low and had declined since the start of the COVID- 19 pandemic, especially in rural areas.
According to ZimStats, the proportion of households that received food aid dropped to 2% in the second round and from 15% in the first round.
Further analysis of the data from round 1 using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIFES) shows that the proportion of households facing severe food insecurity have risen over the past years from 7% in April – May 2019 to 27%, in July 2020
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), “Rural households are more food insecure than urban households for both food security measure.
Information at hand also states that across Zimbabwe, 7million people in both urban and rural areas are in need of humanitarian assistance at this stage, compared to 5.5 million in August 2019.
Since the launch of the revised humanitarian appeal, circumstances for millions of Zimbabweans have worsened due to COVID- 19 as a lot of people in the rural areas lack access to adequate food and they have to rely on the Government and donor aid.
An estimated 59% of the total population are food insecure an in need of immediate food assistance, which in short can only be met through imports.
COVID- 19 is rapidly spreading beyond major cities to rural areas and this has caused hunger among citizens.
Recently, the World Food Programme was appealing to the international community for US$204 million to support over four (4) million vulnerable people, in Zimbabwe, over the next 6 months, as the devastating drought, rising hyperinflation and COVID- 19 continue to expose millions of households to hunger.
One-third of the rural population is expected to face a “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, and 2.3 million hungry urban dwellers.
WFP Zimbabwe’s country representative Francesca Erdelmann said, “More than half of Zimbabweans in the rural areas are left with no alternative, but to skip meals, reduce portion size or sell off precious belongings in order to cope.
“We are deeply concerned that if the WFP does not receive enough funding to reach the four million people it intends to, families will be further pushed to the limit,” she said.
By Nomthandazo Gabi