Cabinet received reports on the Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee (ZimLAC) 2024 Urban Livelihoods and Nutrition Assessment, and the Second Round Crops, Livestock, and Fisheries Assessment. These were presented by Honourable Dr. A.J. Masuka, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition, and Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.

The 2024 ZimLAC Urban Livelihoods and Nutrition Assessments aimed to estimate the urban population likely to be food insecure in 2024, understand their geographic distribution and the severity of their food insecurity, assess the nutrition status among the urban population, and determine access to basic services such as education, health, water, sanitation, and hygiene. It also looked at sources of income, expenditure patterns, food consumption patterns, and consumption coping strategies. The assessment found that 65% of urban households are food secure, while 35% are food insecure, translating to 1,732,770 people. Key youth development challenges reported by surveyed households include unemployment, drug and substance abuse, and early marriages. Youths prioritized job creation, income-generating activities, vocational training, and access to start-up capital or loans.

Regarding nutrition, the assessment revealed that the household Dietary Diversity Score is high across provinces, with 79% of households consuming five or more food groups. Additionally, 71% of urban households consume acceptable diets, including meat, fish, eggs, pulses, fruits, and milk.

The Second Round Crops, Livestock, and Fisheries Assessment highlighted the severe impact of the El Nino-induced drought on agricultural production and productivity for the 2023/2024 season. This drought affected the entire Southern African region, with Zimbabwe being significantly impacted. A total of 1,777,540 hectares was planted to maize in the 2023/2024 season, representing a 7% reduction from the target area and a 12% decrease from the previous year. This reduction reflects agro-ecological tailoring, shifting to traditional grains in drier regions. There was a 16% increase in the area planted under traditional crops, from 533,625 hectares to 621,048 hectares. Initially, the total area under cereals (maize and traditional grains) was expected to yield 2,579,237 metric tonnes. However, production is estimated to have reduced by 77% to 744,271 metric tonnes, indicating a significant shortfall for both food and stock feed.

In response to the drought’s severity, President Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa declared a State of Disaster on 2 April 2024. The government is working to ensure no one will die of hunger. Future food security strategies will focus on reducing reliance on rain-fed agriculture by promoting climate-proofed farming practices, conservation agriculture, and expanding irrigation.

The drought also severely affected livestock, with 9,941 cattle lost at the beginning of the 2023/2024 season due to water and grazing shortages. The most affected districts are Tsholotsho and Binga in Matabeleland North, and Mangwe and Bulilima in Matabeleland South. Forty-seven percent of the wards will face critical grazing shortages from July 2024 onwards, while 12% have adequate grazing until the next season.

The government assures citizens that Zimbabwe will emerge from this drought stronger, more united, and more resilient. A comprehensive report on drought strategies and measures is now available and will guide future interventions.

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