WFP/Victoria Cavanagh

The Situation

Over the last decade, Zimbabwe has experienced a number of unprecedented economic, environmental and political shocks and stresses, contributing to a “serious” classification on the 2015 Global Hunger Index.

An estimated 62.6 percent of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line. Micronutrient deficiencies are also prevalent, including a 70 percent prevalence of anemia among children under the age of two, largely driven by poor dietary diversity. Although declining, the prevalence of HIV remains the fifth highest in the world, at 13.7 percent.

Following a poor 2014-2015 harvest season, a historic drought in 2015-2016 has further undermined the agricultural sector, with dire consequences for a population in which 80 percent of Zimbabweans depend on mainly rain-fed agriculture and livestock production.

By January 2017, an estimated 40 percent of the country’s rural population—roughly 4.1 million people—will be food-insecure, which means they will lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

World Food Programme's Work

WFP has been present in Zimbabwe since 2002.

WFP’s country strategic plan for 2016-2020 targets the multiple root causes of chronic food insecurity and poverty in Zimbabwe. While preserving WFP’s humanitarian response capacity, it promotes an increasing shift towards resilience-building efforts, and includes emphasis on reducing stunting, strengthening social protection systems, and empowering smallholder farmers.

As part of this effort, WFP plans to provide food and/or cash-based assistance to 18,800 food-insecure households from May to October 2016 in exchange for work to create or rehabilitate productive assets. Selected through a community-based process, these assets include dams, irrigation systems and nutrition gardens, which can help families generate income, reduce reliance on food assistance and improve resilience to environmental hazards over time. The agency also provides communities with training to improve livelihoods, including basic financial literacy for those who receive cash-based assistance.

In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, WFP also plans to treat 26,000 moderately acute malnourished HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients, pregnant and nursing mothers and children under age five each month at select clinics across the country.

To cope with the effects of the 2015-2016 drought, the agency is providing immediate food assistance to vulnerable households during the lean season—a time of peak hunger in the months between harvest and planting. Prompted by the El Niño-induced drought, the 2016-2017 lean season assistance cycle began six months earlier than normal in May 2016. WFP plans to gradually scale up its efforts from 1.3 million people in July 2016 to 2.2 million people by January 2017.

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