Zimbabwe: El Nino Induced Drought Could Worsen Zim's Food Situation

4 March 2019

The El nino induced drought which is currently hitting Zimbabwe is a major threat to the country's food situation which in most cases affect nutrition as people in affected areas are likely to struggle to meet their daily dietary needs.

The drought, coming at a time prices of basic commodities have soared, eroding the buying power of the local bond notes-cum RTGS dollars spells doom especially for people in the southern part of the country which is severely affected during dry spells.

The annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe climbed to 56.9% in January of 2019 from 42.09% in the prior month, the highest since at least December of 2009.

The liquidity crisis which has hit all sectors of the economy has also created critical shortages of fertilizers, other chemicals and crop inputs that is expected to hit farmers in terms of crop preparations.

It is notable that some outlets are only accepting payment in US dollars. Cattle deaths are being reported in some parts of the country and are affecting draught power and household incomes.

Normally, local manufacturing companies and importers provide these supplies but they have been facing difficulties in meeting demand and sustaining operations because of the ongoing liquidity crisis in the country.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe National Defence University, the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube mentioned that the major driver of inflation during 2018 is the pass-through from the parallel exchange rate, which despite stabilising has been gradually feeding into the pricing of goods and services.

While government insists that the situation is under control, there are concerns around the capacity of drought stricken communities to maintain nutritional balance.

This in light of the fact that a kilogram of beef ranging from $15-$18 per kg, bread being sold at $2 while other essentials are beyond the reach of many.

Worsening the situation is that government has been reluctant to align salaries with the inflationary levels, despite even school fees going up.

This has seen children are going to school on empty stomachs thus affecting their participation in class.

The health stakeholders have been affected too as local clinics and hospitals are failing to provide basic medication for people.

A number of pharmacies are now selling their stocks using United States Dollars thus affecting the health of the people at large.

While there is hope that the national grain reserves are adequate to sustain the country to the next rainy season, government could still do well in declaring and opening the country to aid agencies to avert and stop the current situation from turning into a crisis.

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