Zimbabwe is a landlocked, low-income, food deficit country in Southern Africa. In 2019, more than 2.4 million people face food insecurity at the peak of the lean season, as poor rains and erratic weather patterns have a negative impact on crop harvests and livelihood prospects. Current projections point to a possibly even higher number at risk if the cropping season remains below normal.
The factors which have exacerbated Zimbabwe’s food security situation to “serious” according to the 2017 Global Hunger Index (where it ranked 108th of 119) are manifold. Widespread poverty, HIV/AIDS, limited employment opportunities, liquidity challenges, recurrent climate-induced shocks and economic instability all contribute to limiting adequate access to food.
Low-productivity agricultural practices and lack of access to markets are also affecting the food security of the vast majority of rural Zimbabweans, whose livelihoods depend on rain-fed agricultural production. Undernutrition rates are high, especially in rural districts where diets lack diversity – maize being the main staple – and are poor in essential nutrients.
A Zero Hunger Strategic Review of the food security situation carried out in 2015 highlighted the root causes of hunger, the gaps in support, and the areas where WFP could add value. Following recommendations from the Review, WFP is sharpening its focus on supporting longer-term national social protection and resilience-building to achieve Zero Hunger, while also maintaining its humanitarian assistance.
In Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme (WFP) is supporting the Government to address the root causes of vulnerability through activities that strengthen safety nets and build resilience, while also providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people, including refugees, during severe seasonal shocks.
WFP is contributing to the Zimbabwean Government’s efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on ending hunger, and SDG 17 on global partnerships. To this end, WFP is strengthening and forging new partnerships with government, NGOs, academia, donors, private sector, UN agencies and communities.
Innovative programmes are needed to end hunger at scale in Zimbabwe. WFP will continue developing and implementing innovations in analysis and mapping, technology and systems, emergency preparedness, supply chain and delivery choices. Examples include SCOPE – a beneficiary management and transfer mechanism which can potentially serve as a social protection single registry – and the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative – which builds climate adaptation and insurance into safety nets.
Under its Country Strategic Plan 2017-2021, WFP will work towards eradicating hunger and ensure better nutrition through six strategic outcomes, the activities of which are closely inter-linked, amplifying results. As resilience continues to be paramount to strengthening communities’ capacity to absorb future climate induced shocks, WFP will increase its resilience-building activities through supporting smallholder farmers, piloting the R4 Rural Initiative and programmes aiming to rehabilitate or create community assets, such as water harvesting systems.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Zimbabwe
Humanitarian assistanceWFP works to enable food-insecure people, including refugees, in the most affected districts to meet their basic food and nutrition requirements during severe seasonal shocks or other crises. WFP will continue to provide assistance in seasonal lean periods, which can escalate to crisis level. The objective is to improve access to food and ensure that vulnerable people consume an adequate and nutritious diet in times of need.
NutritionWFP is supporting efforts to reduce stunting rates of children in prioritized districts by 2025, in line with national and global targets. The goal is to improve the diets of young children, increase access to low-cost fortified foods, reduce stunting and micronutrient deficiencies among children aged from 6 months to 2 years, and optimize the Government’s nutrition programming.
Support to smallholder farmersWFP aims to enable smallholder farmers to have increased access to well-functioning markets by 2030 through activities that address the lack of systems and institutions to support efficient and profitable marketing.
Rural resilience to climate shocksTo support food insecure rural households in achieving food security and demonstrating resilience to seasonal shocks and stressors, WFP provides cash or food to meet families’ short-term needs in the short-term, while assets – such as water harvesting systems – are rehabilitated or created for long-term food security.
Social protectionWFP is contributing to Zimbabwe’s social protection system, so that chronically vulnerable populations across the country are able to meet their basic needs all year round. WFP aims to improve national institutions and systems to enhance the quality and outcomes of humanitarian responses in the short term, while minimizing the need for humanitarian responses in future.
Supply chain solutionsWFP provides partners with cost-effective and efficient logistics and procurement expertise and services.