By the peak of the lean season in early 2022, poor households are likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in many deficit-producing areas. This is driven by depleted own-produced stocks and increased market reliance with below-average purchasing power. Where humanitarian assistance is significant, outcomes will improve to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). Most surplus-producing areas will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes given above-average 2021 harvests. Urban areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as poor households face challenges meeting basic food needs with below-average income, above-average prices, and unfavorable exchange rates.
Widespread rainfall has been received across the country this month, increasing land preparation and planting for the 2021-22 agricultural season and improving agricultural labor opportunities. This marks a normal start of the season in most areas with some farmers planting earlier than usual in localized areas. However, some farmers have been negatively impacted as prices of crop inputs shot up significantly in November with most commodities costing up to 100 percent higher than this time last year. General dryness and high temperatures have been reported in the last week of the month.
Parallel market exchange rates currently range between 70 and 100 percent above offical exchange rates, driving most price increases in goods and services. In addition, official exchange rates increased by nearly 10 percent from October to November, following a period of relative stability in recent months. ZIMSTAT reported increases of at least six percent in the food poverty and total consumption poverty lines in November. These progressive increases in the cost of living have eroded household income and constrained food access on the market, especially among poor households in both rural and urban areas.
As the lean season begins, households in typical deficit-producing areas are broadening and intensifying their livelihood and coping strategies. Strategies include casual labor, livestock and wild fruit sales, self-employment, petty trade, and informal mining. However, above-average transportation costs are constraining some coping strategies and anticipated above-average rainfall is likely to negatively affect informal mining opportunities.