Food security in Zimbabwe continues to be the country’s biggest threat during COVID-19. The latest figures from Action-Aid show 8.8 million people at risk.
Zimbabwe like many Southern African countries with the exception of South Africa, have to date registered low numbers in terms of infections and COVID-19 deaths. However, a full lock down enforced by the security forces was put in place for the past 21 days and has been extended for a further 14 days until the 3rd of May 2020.
What continues to be Zimbabwe’s biggest threat during this pandemic is unprecedented food insecurity with the latest figures from Action-Aid putting 8.8 million people at risk.
This is more than 60% of the entire population facing food insecurity in the face of COVID-19.
The food crisis is a result of climate-induced droughts, Cyclone Idai, floods and the macroeconomic situation, putting the lives of millions of people and livestock at risk.
What currently remains a pressing issue for the Zimbabwe government is that the majority of the populace, roughly 85 per cent, are already caught in a very difficult situation. The choice between staying at home and starving is not a choice.
The vulnerability of people living in poverty will continue to deepen as some of the protection measures will not be followed by communities concerned with finding food on the table for their families.
While death rates from outside Zimbabwe’s borders are concerning, they are far outweighed by the pressing hunger and diminishing sources of livelihoods. As has already been witnessed in a couple of places, running battles between law enforcement agents and the masses could soon spiral out of control.
Of concern again is how the transition from lockdown to partial lockdown and back to “normal” will be handled. While the infection figures remain low, a spike post lockdown remains very possible and concerning given the pressures that are fast building-up from the lockdown.
“The short of it is Zimbabwe’s people are still in the dark as to how many infections there actually are, given the state of the health system”.
Presently, they remain sceptical that things will be managed well and end with bearable economic disruption and deaths. Zimbabweans remain absorbed in post-COVID thoughts and survival.
The governments of Africa, including Zimbabwe have difficult choices, the trade of lives through famine or pandemic is a decision no government wishes to make.
By Trust Mamombe in Harare, Zimbabwe – IEP Program Director, Southern Africa