Hunger stalks urban areas



Many urban dwellers will continue to live on limited food despite an anticipated good harvest amid continuous high food price increases and low purchasing power, a new report has shown.

The latest Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) report said the rural population will have relief for at least three months but the urban folks who depend on money will be most hit by the volatile situation, which has seen purchasing power dwindling.

Currently, rural and farm populations are engaged in harvesting and there is a lot of manual work going on giving the hired workers either produce or cash, the report said.

“Urban areas are expected to remain stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the outlook period, driven by low incomes and increasing food and non-food prices.

“The assumptions used to develop FEWSNET’s most likely scenario for the Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook for February to September 2023 remain unchanged, except that some deficit-producing areas will likely have an earlier-than-normal start of the lean season due to the anticipated early depletion of harvested food stocks, high prices, and below-normal incomes,” reads part of the report.

“High food prices and lower-than-normal income will likely negatively impact household purchasing power, particularly as households increase their dependency on market food purchases.”

The spectre of hunger comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) also raised concerns over the depreciation of the local currency and purchasing power of the country’s population, resulting in more people seriously rationing food to survive.

“According to WFP’s HungerMap LIVE monitoring platform, which collects data from rural and urban households through mobile surveys on several indicators including food consumption patterns and coping strategies, approximately 3.9m people were estimated to be facing insufficient food consumption during the first week of April 2023, decreasing by almost 0.3m people when compared to 4.2m the first week of March and by 0.9 million from the 4.8m reported during the first week of January 2023,” the WFP said.

“All provinces experienced a decrease in the prevalence of insufficient food consumption within the three months under consideration, except for Bulawayo and Harare which increased by 10 and 5 percentage points respectively.

“The increases in urban and peri-urban areas of Bulawayo and Harare could be reflective of the general food and nutrition security situation in urban areas and could be driven by slight price increases observed in urban markets mainly for US$ prices,” WFP said.

The number of people estimated to be resorting to ‘crisis and above’ food-based coping strategies was estimated at 7.2m, a decrease from 7.4m reported during the first week of January 2023 but an increase of 0.4m from 6.8m reported in March.



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