31 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Poverty Stalks Urban Dwellers

Urban households are now making dietary adjustments as a coping mechanism to beat poverty in light of the increasing cost of the basic food basket, Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT) executive director Judith Kaulem has said.

Kaulem said in a PRFT's policy brief for July that the organisation established through its monthly Basic Needs Basket survey that people were now employing adaptive strategies in the face of inadequate resources.

"For example, households indicated that they are relying on less preferred and less expensive food to cope with the high cost of food," she said.

The Food and Nutritional Council of Zimbabwe recommends a minimum of 2 100 calories per capita per day for urban households to achieve a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

According to Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Calorie supply per capita is the amount of food available for consumption, measured in kilocalories per capita per day. This figure is reached by dividing the total available food supply for human consumption by the population.

"Therefore, such coping strategies have devastating health and nutritional impacts especially on vulnerable groups such as the sick, elderly, children and women," Kaulem said.

She called on government to implement food governance policies targeting the poor in urban areas whom she said had become as vulnerable to food insecurity as those living in rural areas.

"It has become evident that poor households bear the consequences of the price hikes and fluctuations on the urban market," Kaulem said.

She said the timely announcement of maize prices by government was critical in promoting efficiency of the agricultural marketing system and an improved, timeous supply of maize on the urban markets.

Kaulem called on the Grain Marketing Board to ensure even distribution of maize in urban areas especially those which are mostly characterised by frequent deficits.

According to the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index, a measure of different aspect of human poverty, almost 1,5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards.

Zimbabwe is now ranked at 156 out of 186 countries, from 160th position in 2012, according to the 2013 global HDI rankings.

The registered improvement of Zimbabwe on the Human development Index scale has been attributed to the positive growth trajectory that the economy registered during the subsistence of the unity government between 2009 and 2013.


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