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Civic Monitoring Programme integrating the FOSENET Food Security monitoring

Community assessment of food security and the social situation in Zimbabwe


April 2004

Posted with permission of the Civic Monitoring Programme, Harare, Zimbabwe
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The April 2004 report is drawn from 145 monitoring reports from 52 districts from all provinces of Zimbabwe, with an average of 2.8 reports per district.

Food availability is reported to have improved substantially since March 2004. The most food insecure districts are reported to be in Masvingo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.

Improved food supplies are noted to be due to harvests, particularly from districts that received early and constant rains. Community reports warn in 15% of districts that harvest yields are not sufficient to sustain household food security.

An increasing share of households are reported to now be sourcing food from own production . Despite this, food stocks have not yet grown significantly, with 68% of households reported to have food stocks of a month or less.

The decline in GMB deliveries reported in March continued in April, with a drop in the in coverage, frequency and volume of deliveries per sentinel ward. Reported GMB prices did not change significantly in the month. The fall in GMB deliveries is reported to be compensated for by available food from harvests, with reports cautioning that this is a temporary situation.

Commercial supplies of basic food stuffs were reported to be significantly higher than the same time last year, but prices are now reported to be too high for many households to afford .

The price of maize meal appears to have fallen between March and April 2004. Even the cities report a decrease of about 25% on the parallel market maize meal price, possibly due to rural food sales in informal markets.

Relief activities, both government cash for work and non government and UN relief activities, are reported in less districts. falling from 48% districts in March 2004 to 29% in April 2004 for the cash for work programme, and from 91% districts in March to 62% in April for the UN and NGO relief activities.

As harvest supplies have taken the immediate pressure off food access for many, the major concern voiced in this round was on quality and cost of health care. This was particularly reported in terms of drug access and costs of care. Availability of antibiotics was reported in 58% of districts (62% in March) and of chloroquin in 69% of districts (74% reported in March 2004).

Fee levels for clinics are reported to vary widely, with an upper limit of $45 000. Only half of the clinics are reported to have safe water in sites in Mashonaland West, Midlands and Masvingo. Reported fee levels for secondary schools ranged from $200 to $200 000, a 100 times difference between highest and lowest levels, with hest reported fees reported in Mashonaland Central.

Communities reported in 71% of districts that increases in schools fees and levies have led to some children of school going age defaulting on school attendance. In most districts this was reported to affect a small number of children and particularly orphans. In those areas where the AIDS Levy fund (DAAC) was supporting school fees, school access was reported to be better.

Various strategies were reported to be employed by communities in April 2004 to meet their social and food needs, primarily household strategies to seek informal work or trading or to borrow money. There was a significant fall in reporting of household asset sales, probably signaling the relief on household budgets of the harvest yields. The strategy of borrowing however is reported to be indebting urban households, with assets reported to be used as collateral.

While community strategies for supporting the poorest are generally reported to be disabled by household poverty, as household economic pressures have lifted marginally there is some report of increased community support for food and in Zunde raMambo schemes. Some sites noted the need now for longer term social 'rehabilitation' activities to be started , while economic pressures are a bit less.

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