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Community assessment of food security and the social situation in Zimbabwe: April 2005

Community Monitoring Programme integrating the FOSENET Food Security monitoring

SARPN acknowledges permission from the Community Monitoring Programme to post this report on the SARPN website.
Comments on the paper can be sent to: fsmt2@mweb.co.zw
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Background

The Community Monitoring Programme aims to provide community based information to inform programmes aimed at socio-economic development and food security in Zimbabwe.

Civil society organizations have through the monitoring group of the National NGO Food Security Network (FOSENET) been monitoring food security in Zimbabwe since July 2002. In 2004 this monitoring was widened to cover other social and economic conditions, recognizing the wide range of conditions influencing social and economic wellbeing. The Community Monitoring Programme is implemented through civil society organisations based within districts and through community-based monitors. Monthly reports from all areas of the country are compiled to provide a monthly situation assessment of food security and social welfare to enhance an ethical, effective and community focussed response to social and economic challenges and to inform civil society- state interactions on social and economic development.

This twentieth round of civil society and community based monitoring nationally covers the month of April 2005. It is drawn from 153 monitoring reports from 45 districts from all provinces of Zimbabwe, with an average of 3.2 reports per district.

The monitoring information is collected from sentinel wards within districts. Data presented is cross validated through two or more site reports on any indicator. Training, review by monitors and peer review is continuously implemented to improve both coverage and data quality. Queries and feedback on these reports is welcomed and should be directed to the Community Monitoring Programme at fsmt2@mweb.co.zw

Summary

Sentinel sites in almost all provinces reported a deteriorating food supply situation, with widespread report of crop failure due to poor rains in the 2004/2005 season. Reporting of deteriorating supplies from 82% districts compares with 29% of districts reporting this in April 2004. Sites report that shortfalls in food supplies arise primarily due to unavailability in 2005 of the early harvest yields that usually contribute to improved food availability from March onwards.

While all provinces are reported to be affected the greatest share of sites reporting deteriorating food supplies are from Matabeleland north, Masvingo and Midlands.

87% of households were reported to have food stocks of a month or less, higher than levels reported in April 2004 (68%) but approximately the same as reported in March 2004 (84%).

A large proportion of households are reported to be sourcing food from commercial sources both in rural and urban areas.

GMB deliveries were reported in sites in 49% of the districts in April 2005, over double that reported in September 2004 (23%) and in April 2004 (21%). Price increases of GMB grains are reported to pose a cost barrier for the poorest households.

Commercial supplies of maize meal, bread and sugar were reported from the wards to be significantly lower than in April 2004.

Relief activities were reported in twelve districts (27% of districts), including the government cash for work programme and some NGO feeding of school children, pregnant women and people living with AIDS. In April 2004 29% districts reported the Government cash for work programme and 62% NGO and UN relief activities.

Population movements were reported in a quarter of districts, and were reported to be due to loss of employment, high accommodation rentals (urban- rural movement) or to secure employment or for trade (rural –urban and to neighbouring countries).

While availability of indicator drugs (antibiotics, analgesics) in local clinics is reported to have fallen from 79% sites in September 2004 to 67% of sites in April 2005, clinic fee levels are reported to have remained relatively constant since March 2004.

Prices of indicator goods in a basket of food, hygiene products, health and medical care services and items and essential services were found to differ little between urban and rural areas, except for accommodation rentals. Reported prices for these health basket goods rose by between 44% and 79%, with bath soap and rentals showing highest increases. Condom prices are reported to have fallen.



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