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Quarterly community assessment of the socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe: Income & employment

Community Monitoring Programme

August 2005

SARPN acknowledges the Community Monitoring Programme as the source of this document.
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This fifth round of quarterly community based monitoring in the Community Monitoring Programme was on Economic and Employment conditions. It was carried out in July/August 2005. It is compiled from 152 monitoring reports from sentinel sites in 53 districts from all provinces of Zimbabwe, with an average of 2.9 reports per district. It sought to find out how far community expectations on key areas of income and employment have been met and the constraints to and potentials for addressing these key issues.

The majority of people were noted to be in insecure forms of employment, a situation that is reported to have not changed significantly in the past year. Young people were generally reported to have more insecure employment and incomes. There was a reported decline in employment in the informal economy with loss of incomes. Monitor reports attributed this to Operation Murambatsvina.

Land was reported to be the most important resource for food production, together with labour, credit facilities and access to water, seed and fertilizer inputs. Constraints in access were reported across all, particularly land, labour, credit and water.

Income security from all forms of employment and production was reported to be low, although there was some improvement in reporting of households savings between July 2004 and August 2005.

Nationally 82% of sites reported that few people were working in decent working conditions, an increase over the reported levels in July 2004.

A quarter (25%) of sites nationally reported people not accessing safe drinking water, with a greater share reported to be accessing safe water in urban than in rural areas. Reported levels of safe water use have increased since the July 2004 round, but the distances traveled to access safe water are reported to have increased. The constraints reported were primarily supply side, with reported shortages of paraffin and firewood in rural areas and energy cuts in urban areas. Cost was not cited as a primary constraint.

Despite severe shortfalls in incomes and job security life was reported to be improving for some people. It was reported that life was getting better for landlords who are benefiting from huge increases in rentals due to rising demand for accommodation, particularly after operation Murambatsvina. Life was also reported to be improving for business people, civil servants, war vets, cotton farmers and women involved in cross border trading activities. These were the same groups as in July 2004 except that informal traders were reported to be doing better in July 2004 than in August 2005.

Few people were reported to know how public funds are used. Monitoring reports noted youth as facing problems in acquiring citizenship documents. Knowledge of trade unions and labour laws was low and reported levels have fallen since July 2004. A quarter of sites expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of trade unions

The findings of this round have shown that basic conditions of employment, income security and social wellbeing have not changed significantly in the past year. Across both rounds, July 2004 and August 2005, the majority of people are reported to be in insecure forms of employment, with constraints in access to production resources, and to basic social needs. As in the last round in July 2004, job loss has been much more common than job creation and youth continue to have worse access to employment.

The reported situation appears to have improved with respect to savings from income, access to energy for household use, and use of safe water sources.

Those earning incomes from rentals and business people selling commodities are reported to have experienced improved lives over the period.

The reported situation appears to have worsened with respect to earnings from informal employment, job loss, job turnover, work in decent working conditions, access to farm production inputs, food production for hone consumption, costs of transport, school and clinic use and distances to access safe water.

Child headed households, widows without incomes, HIV/AIDS patients , the unemployed, former farm workers and people with low incomes are reported to have continued to experience deteriorating lives, while informal traders are reported to have changed from being a group with improving lives in July 2004 to a group with deteriorating lives in August 2005.

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