As Zimbabwe enters its lean season, which runs from November until March, more poor households are expected to struggle with food insecurity. Some 2.4 million people are predicted to suffer from food insecurity from September 2018 until at least March 2019, a significant increase from the estimated 567,000 people classified as food insecure in June 2018. The rural population of Zimbabwe is the most affected.
A decline in maize production by roughly 30% across Zimbabwe in 2018, coupled with a fall armyworm infestation, has severely affected nutrition and food security. Most areas of the country are classified from IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) or IPC Phase 3 (Crisis), with more expected to fall into Crisisduring the lean season. Zimbabwe's liquidity crisis is raising food prices in formal markets and encouraging black market trading. Prices of non-staple food items including cooking oil and bread continue to rise, while the purchasing power of poor households continues to decline. Some poor households in food deficit areas have already depleted their reserves and are facing a consumption gap. These issues contribute to the significant increase in the number of households across Zimbabwe that will experience Crisis during the lean season that starts in November.
The current cholera and typhoid outbreaks are likely to complicate humanitarian responses to malnutrition and food insecurity, as cholera is known to exacerbate malnutrition. Cholera treatment clinics in Harare have also identified food needs for patients and staff.?
An outbreak of cholera that was declared on 5 September has been spreading rapidly across the country. More than 9,116 suspected cases have been reported with 54 deaths (CFR 0.6%) as of 12 October.?The most severely affected areas are the two epicentres of the outbreaks in the suburbs of Glenview and Budiriro in western Harare. The outbreak started because of two contaminated boreholes and a well in Glenview and Budiriro; however, a dilapidated and under-maintained WASH infrastructure throughout Harare and wider Zimbabwe has faciliatated the rapid spread of the disease. Initial estimates suggest around 200,000 people are considered at risk of contracting the disease in the two epicentres, while the disease has now spread to five other provinces: Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Masvingo.?
Harare’s water and sewage system was last upgraded in 1994 to serve 1.5 million people, rather than the 4.5 million now living in the capital and its outskirts. Only a quarter of daily water demands (800 megalitres) are met in Harare, leaving huge shortfalls. The lack of available water has led residents to use alternative water sources, including unsafe boreholes and open wells, while up to 60% of treated water is lost in choke points at water treatment sites or through damaged pipes. The conditions of Zimbabwe's WASH infrastructure, including blocked and overflowing sewers as well as generally poor sanitation, encourage practices such as open defecation and exacerbate the impact of cholera because of the potential for effluent water to contaminate boreholes, open wells and other sources of drinking water with faecal matter.?