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Household Economy Assessment: Nyaminyami (Kariba Rural) District - Save the Children Report, 21 June 2002

 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • Nyaminyami (or Kariba Rural) district is ranked as the least developed district in all of Zimbabwe. The communal lands are mainly classified as natural regions IV and V, and agriculture also suffers from destruction of produce by wildlife from Matusadona Game Park within the district. As of February 2002, 5.9% of children were acutely malnourished, while 34.1% were chronically malnourished.


  • This assessment first examined access to food and income and expenditure patterns of different socio-economic groups within 3 "food economy zones" within the district in the year from April 2001 to March 2002, which was a relatively bad year. Food security and the coping strategies employed provide pointers to how people will cope with the serious drought and other problems in 2002-03. The second part of the assessment focused on the likely food security situation in 2002-03 and the need for food aid and other interventions.


  • In 2001-02, the main problems faced were reduced food and cash crop production, heavy losses of cattle and donkeys to tsetse-borne trypanosomiasis, and problems with grain availability on the market. These in turn impacted on parallel market prices for maize, on livestock prices and on payment rates for agricultural labour.


  • Households adopted a variety of coping mechanisms which enabled them to meet 90%-100% of their minimum food needs. The main coping strategies included:
    • Switching expenditure from non-staple foods, non-food items and services to the purchase of maize
    • Undertaking more piecework and casual labouring. Due to reduced payment rates, this required that more family members - including young children - participate in the work so that the same or more total income could be earned
    • Livestock were sold, and a substantial reduction in livestock holdings was witnessed because of this and because of losses due to disease
    • Consumption of wild foods increased significantly
    • Households in Kasvisva/ Msambakaruma increased their production and sale of crafts


  • Overall, communities became more impoverished over the year, reducing their capacity to cope with a second year of problems. Households affected by HIV/ AIDS are amongst the most vulnerable.


  • The harvest in 2002 was greatly reduced by drought, with grain production falling to 26% of the average for the 1990s. Cotton was also affected, and this will reduce incomes in the district. Because the drought was not confined to Nyaminyami, the availability of labouring opportunities on farms in neighbouring districts will be greatly reduced, while competition for such work will increase. The limited livestock holdings after last year's problems will also negatively affect households' capacity to cope on their own.


  • Food aid needs to be provided to the poor group for a 10-month period from June 2002 to March 2003, and for the middle group from September 2002 to March 2003. The food aid could be discontinued if there is a reasonable harvest in 2003. A ration rate equivalent to 1,575 kcal per person per day (75% of minimum needs) is recommended due to the existence of some other coping mechanisms. A 100% ration may be required if GMB deliveries of food to the market prove to be inadequate.


  • Further interventions are required to support rehabilitation of agricultural production and prevention of animal diseases.


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