Most areas of Matebeleland North and South, Masvingo, and parts of Midlands and Manicaland Provinces are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through at least March 2021. This is mainly due to poor macroeconomic conditions, continued impacts of consecutive droughts, and COVID-19. Areas receiving significant humanitarian assistance, improving household food access, are expected to experience Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. Parts of the surplus-producing Mashonaland Provinces will most likely continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes as market reliance increases in the face of depleted own-produced stocks and low income-earning opportunities. The situation is expected to improve across the country starting in April 2021 with the harvest.
Between October and the third week of November, cumulative rainfall was generally average in western, southwestern, and central parts of the country; however, the erratic nature of rainfall resulted in very minimal planting. Rainfall in northern, eastern, and southern areas was below-average. This period was also accompanied by very high temperatures. Widespread rainfall in the last week of November improved planting across most parts of the country. Access to inputs on the markets remains poor due to very high prices and low incomes with farmers in most areas looking up to government and partner assistance. Water availability for domestic, livestock, and other uses has not significantly improved with the early season rainfall.
The relatively stable official and parallel market exchange rates continue to drive some stability in food prices; however, prices remain significantly above average and beyond what poor households can afford, and some price increases continue to be recorded. Despite a progressive 3-month drop in annual inflation to 471 percent in October, ZIMSTAT reported a 4.4 percent increase in the cost of living in October compared to September. Incomes for poor rural and urban households continue to be constrained.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased at higher rates during the month of November following low infection rates reported in September and October. Authorities have warned of the risk for a spike in infections given the growing public laxity in adhering to basic preventive measures. If the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase there is potential for the government to re-introduce some stringent measures including restrictions to the movement of people and limiting engagement in some economic activities to reduce the spread of the disease. This would likely result in decreased access to food and income, especially among poor households, and mainly in urban areas.