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


Most of the people of Nyaminyami were livelihood insecure, if not food insecure, in 2001-02. Some were able to meet their minimum food needs, but this was at the expense of selling off many assets and foregoing other basic goods. There was also a sharp decline in the diversity of diets, as households focused on accessing maize. The reduced harvest was a problem in itself, but it was exacerbated by the loss of many animals to disease and later by the massive increase in maize prices.

An earlier and greater supply of food aid would have assisted people to meet their minimum food and non-food needs.

In the year to April 2003, the problems look set to be much worse than those in 2001-02. Harvests of food crops have declined to approximately 26% of the average level of the 1990s, and cotton production dropped by 30% compared to last year. The drought that was the main cause of these losses in Nyaminyami has also affected neighbouring areas of Gokwe North and Hurungwe district, albeit to a lesser extent, and this will limit the availability of agricultural labouring opportunities. Livestock - especially cattle - have been devastated by disease, and many animals were also sold off last year as a means of raising cash to buy food.

Therefore the main means that people in Nyaminyami have of accessing food and income in a normal year, as well as some of their most important coping mechanisms, have all been very adversely affected by two years in a row of problems. People will be able to access some of their food needs through the collection of wild foods and a variety of other limited coping strategies. However, these strategies will definitely not enable them to meet their minimum needs.

The better off are likely to be self sufficient for the whole year, but this assumes that maize will be available for purchase. The middle group in Kasvisva and Kanyati should be self-sufficient for approximately 5 months (2 months' harvest; 2 months' worth from the sale of cotton; 1 months' worth from livestock sales). The middle in Mola/ Negande and the poor in all 3 zones are only likely to be self-sufficient for a maximum of two months. Other coping strategies may enable households to meet a maximum of 25% of their food needs during the remaining months of the year.

If food aid and other interventions are not carried out to bridge these deficits, the result will be a very substantial increase in rates of acute malnutrition and mortality. Medium-term interventions will also be vital to enable the community to become more productive again. This will require support for agricultural inputs, as well as moves to reduce the prevalence of tsetse fly and subsequently to assist with the re-stocking of animals.

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