Tuesday, November 19, 2013

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) MDC-T blasts Zanu PF as 2m face starvation
16/10/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

COMMENT - This is the MDC at it's treasonous, seditious best. They lie, to give Zimbabwe a negative image abroad, so they may get into power. This puppetry and sabotage is why people think twice about Western dominated 'democracy'. Democracy comes from the people, not foreign funded parties and NGOs. For the real numbers behind the numbers, read Prof. Ian Scoones article: Food crisis in Zimbabwe: 2.2 million at risk. But where do the figures come from, and what do they mean? - prof. Scoones mentions underreporting of: income, productivity in the A1 areas, concentration of on the dry south (where only 20% of the population live), livestock sales, early cropping and remittances. He also mentions the use of pre-land reform sampling frames; also 1/3 of the number may only be food insecure for a short period before the next harvest. Also check out his post "Dodgy data and missing measures: why good numbers matter (part I)". - MrK

AN MDC-T shadow minister this week blamed Zanu PF’s land reform programme and poorly-conceived agricultural policies over a national food crisis that has left up to two million people in need of food aid.

Moving a motion calling for a parliamentary committee to investigate the food crisis, the MDC-T’s shadow agriculture minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo accused Zanu PF of reducing the country from a net exporter to a perennial food beggar.

He dismissed as deplorable plans by the government to import maize from Zambia through an “eat now pay later arrangement” saying this was evidence of failed leadership.

In September, the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP) warned that some 2.2 million people were in need of urgent food aid.

From prof. Scoones, who predicted: "The 2.2 million figure is of course a good flag-waving number for the WFP to raise funds, and for the CFU to bash the government for the land reform (and even President Mugabe is now joining the critique of the ‘new farmers’), but the actual implications are more complex. Here are five reasons why we need to be cautious about the figures." - MrK

The United Nations agency said this was the highest number of Zimbabweans requiring food assistance since early 2009, when more than half the population relied on such aid.

Said Nkomo: “The victims of elite capture have been the ordinary villagers of Kezi and Siyachilaba who have to contend with debilitating food shortages following the dysfunctionality of a hitherto well laid out food market chain.”

Zimbabwe has suffered intermittent food shortages since 2000 when agricultural output fell after President Robert Mugabe decided to seize white-owned commercial farms to distribute to blacks.
Nkomo blamed the manner in which Zanu PF carried out the land reforms for the current food shortages.

“Though undoubtedly noble a programme, it has become apparent over the years that the Land Reform Programme was a programme not well thought out,” he said.

“But, it was a sporadic reaction to a political capital in light of the energies of the new political players in a hitherto monopolised political landscape.
“Food handouts by non-governmental organisations have been an annual feature in the country’s calendar of events.”

He said although food shortages follow some of the poorest weather conditions, the crisis was mostly man-made and worsened by the partisan distribution of food during drought and starvation mitigation programmes.

“It is indeed sad and primitive that a government can deliberately starve its own populace for purposes of political expedience,” he said.

“It is the essence of democracy to have divergent political ideologies with government having the capability to rise above party politics and provide food to all deserving and bona fide Zimbabweans.”

The government recently announced a US$1 billion scheme to support farmers with inputs ahead of the new agricultural season.

But Nkomo said the fact that farmers needed help with inputs at the start of each new farming season was evidence the programme was not working.

“It has become a common trend that the government churns out millions of dollars annually in support of farmers who,13 years after the Land Reform Programme, are still being referred to as ‘new farmers’ and are hand-held by government with no indication of self-sustaining operations in the near future,” he said.

“While government has an obligation to support farmers, the current support mechanisms are not sustainable as they are characterised by an endless cycle of one way financial and input injections which are not matched by equivalent returns.

“It does not, therefore, come as a surprise that Zimbabwe is now a basket case from its rightful position as the bread basket of Southern Africa.

“If current practices in the agricultural sector are anything to go by, Zimbabwe is poised to suffer even more food deficits in the future.”

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10 Comments:

At 4:51 PM , Blogger MrK said...

(ZIMBABWELAND) Food crisis in Zimbabwe: 2.2 million at risk. But where do the figures come from, and what do they mean?
September 16, 2013 · 6:15 am

The newspapers have been full of commentary on a looming food crisis in Zimbabwe. This has followed from the World Food Programme’s press release that 2.2 million people will be in need of food aid in the coming months. The Commercial Farmers Union has called it a ‘man-made crisis’, the direct result of the ‘chaotic’ land reform, and a decade of inappropriate policies.

I wanted to find out a bit more about where the 2.2 million figure came from. It’s a big number, and would mean a lot of food imports, way beyond the means of the Finance ministry. After a bit of digging I eventually found the figure, buried on page 122 of the ZimVac (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee) livelihood assessment draft report for 2013.

Each year ZimVac, a coalition of NGOs, researchers and government agencies, undertake a major rural livelihood assessment, based on a sample of over 10,000 households across the country. The sample is drawn according to the latest ZIMSTAT ‘master sampling frame’, and the resulting data is aimed to be representative of the country as a whole. It’s an excellent and important initiative, but it has its deficiencies, as those involved readily admit.

The process for deciding the headline figure is complex. It involves assessing for each household all the cereal production, and then adding in income from employment, remittances, livestock sales, and other sources of income that could be used to buy food (p. 120). Assumptions on prices and market availability are used to translate income into food and in turn energy (p.121). The food security assessment is based on the household’s potential access to enough food from all sources, including purchases, to give each member a minimum of 2100 kilocalories per day in the consumption period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 (p. 119). The total number in food deficit figure is then calculated as a sum of all of those experiencing any negative balance in the accounting period.

 
At 4:52 PM , Blogger MrK said...

It’s a complicated procedure with lots of steps and plenty of assumptions. What the headline figure doesn’t indicate – although the report does, and the background documents for the ZimVac surveys over the years are quite transparent about this – is that the big number includes many people who may have a projected deficit for actually a very short period. Indeed, at the time of the survey in May 2013, over 80% of households surveyed had no hunger problems with only a very small proportion recording ‘severe hunger’ (p. 115). The report shows that there is a progression of food insecurity, with a peak of 2.2m people expected in January to March 2014 (p.124). 31% of the total (683,000 people) move into food deficit only in this crunch period before the next harvest; and some of whom may in fact be food insecure for only a very few days.

The 2.2 million figure is of course a good flag-waving number for the WFP to raise funds, and for the CFU to bash the government for the land reform (and even President Mugabe is now joining the critique of the ‘new farmers’), but the actual implications are more complex. Here are five reasons why we need to be cautious about the figures.

* First, there’s geography: as the report shows the problems are concentrated in the dry south of the country which experienced the worst season in terms of rainfall and its distribution (p.125-6).
* Second, there is almost certainly (as ever in surveys) an underreporting of income, and so purchasing power. Since in drought years, market purchases are essential for food entitlements, this is rather crucial.
* Third, the assessment model allows for only limited sales of livestock to compensate for food deficits (households are assumed to retain a minimum of 5 goats and 3 cattle). Yet livestock is precisely the asset in the drier parts of the country that are used in times of drought to exchange for grain, and distress sales are common, and important for food security.
* Fourth, remittances are especially important in drought-prone areas, yet the figures used in the model for this year are based on recall of last year’s receipts. Last year was of course a relatively good year for rural production, and so remittance flows inevitably dropped. But this year, you can be sure, they will increase in response to the shortfalls. For perfectly good reasons, the model does not account for this, but it’s another reason why we can expect things to be not as bad as predicted.
* Finally, the assessment does not include early cropping – for example of green maize – which is often important in that crunch period before the ‘proper’ harvest.

For all these reasons and more, we should be cautious about the headline statistics, and understand in more detail what happens to whom and where.

 
At 4:59 PM , Blogger MrK said...

One of the most striking figures in the report is the prediction that 98% of rural households nationally will hit a food deficit by next March if only cereal production and stocks were included (p. 123). Of course this includes those with no food production to speak of, such as farmworkers and other rurally-based non-farm households.

But even discounting this group, this is striking, and does suggest a problem in agricultural production, as Charles Taffs of the CFU indicates. However, again we must be cautious in jumping to conclusions.

One big concern I have with recent national surveys is that they have been sampling according to old sample frames set before the land reform. This was the case for the 2011 PICES (Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Survey) study and the 2010-11 Demographic and Health Survey, both using the 2002 census sample frame. I have been assured that the ZimVac survey for 2013 used an updated sample, with ‘enumeration areas’ allocated proportional to population distribution derived from the 2012 census. If so, this would have included the significant populations, especially in A1 areas, who are – at least according to our data from Masvingo – producing more and doing better than their counterparts in the communal areas, where most the earlier rural samples are drawn from. And in our study areas on A1 sites we see between half and two-thirds of the households producing sufficient cereals for the year – not just 2%.

Following the 2012 census, ZIMSTAT is revising the national ‘master sample frame’, and hopefully from now on national surveys will be statistically more representative. Unfortunately it is still difficult to stratify the data according to land use types, and so distinguish between resettlement areas and others, so Taffs and co should probably hold off on their outright dismissal of land reform on the back of this data for now. As ever, it’s more complicated than it first seems.

That said, last season was unquestionably a worse one than experienced in the last few years, including in Masvingo. It also hit some higher potential areas hard, with a very unevenly spread rainfall. Despite improvements since 2009, input supply was again erratic and untimely last year. Also, maize area planted was again down, reflecting the shift from food crops to tobacco in some areas, perhaps especially in those food producing areas in the higher rainfall zones. This restructuring of the crop system is directly driven by incentives – tobacco, supported through contract arrangements – , is a much more profitable crop than maize, especially if marketed through the Grain Marketing Board. Over the last decade or more we have seen switches to small grains (although plantings were down this past year according to ZimVac), but these are still a small percentage of total crop output, and it remains maize that drives the food economy, although much of this circulates outside the formal channels, and so is difficult to capture in national statistics.

 
At 4:59 PM , Blogger MrK said...

So what should we make of all this? Certainly there is going to be a problem of food deficits in the coming months. However, problems are going to be concentrated in a certain time period, and outside a few areas and for more vulnerable people, it’s not going to be as bad as the headline figure and the media commentary perhaps suggests. Imports will certainly be needed, and targeted food aid will be important, but other coping strategies will also come into play to offset the worst.

Indeed this seems to have been the pattern over many years now. There is a ritualised flurry of activity around this time of year, with the aid agencies calling for funds to support food aid, and those critical of land reform saying that this ‘proves’ that Zimbabwe has gone for food producer to ‘basket case’. Yet by the end of the season, the expected famine has not occurred and, although hardships unquestionably are faced, the scale and depth of the problem is not as expected. This can be explained due to both sampling and non-sampling errors inherent in the standard surveys; but also significantly because assessments have not got to grips with the new patterns of production (particularly in A1 areas) and marketing (mostly informal). This will require new, and better attuned, data collection techniques.

Unfortunately too often the emergency, humanitarian aid and disaster relief momentum overrides discussion of the developmental issues, and the scramble for food aid (and all the associated politicking) diverts attention and resources. As I have mentioned in this blog many times before, rural development challenges are many. They include the need to invest in irrigation to offset drought vulnerability, the importance of investment and reforms to ensure timely supply of inputs, a pricing and market policy to balance incentives between food and cash crops, a livestock policy that ensures such assets are secure and available in times of need, and, overall, more concerted support for the resettlement areas to ensure that they can indeed supply the nation with food.

Next week, I will continue this theme and look at the data on production and imports over time in a bit more detail. Since 2000 there is little doubt Zimbabwe is in a new era, and policy responses have to take this into account.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 
At 5:00 PM , Blogger MrK said...

So what should we make of all this? Certainly there is going to be a problem of food deficits in the coming months. However, problems are going to be concentrated in a certain time period, and outside a few areas and for more vulnerable people, it’s not going to be as bad as the headline figure and the media commentary perhaps suggests. Imports will certainly be needed, and targeted food aid will be important, but other coping strategies will also come into play to offset the worst.

Indeed this seems to have been the pattern over many years now. There is a ritualised flurry of activity around this time of year, with the aid agencies calling for funds to support food aid, and those critical of land reform saying that this ‘proves’ that Zimbabwe has gone for food producer to ‘basket case’. Yet by the end of the season, the expected famine has not occurred and, although hardships unquestionably are faced, the scale and depth of the problem is not as expected. This can be explained due to both sampling and non-sampling errors inherent in the standard surveys; but also significantly because assessments have not got to grips with the new patterns of production (particularly in A1 areas) and marketing (mostly informal). This will require new, and better attuned, data collection techniques.

Unfortunately too often the emergency, humanitarian aid and disaster relief momentum overrides discussion of the developmental issues, and the scramble for food aid (and all the associated politicking) diverts attention and resources. As I have mentioned in this blog many times before, rural development challenges are many. They include the need to invest in irrigation to offset drought vulnerability, the importance of investment and reforms to ensure timely supply of inputs, a pricing and market policy to balance incentives between food and cash crops, a livestock policy that ensures such assets are secure and available in times of need, and, overall, more concerted support for the resettlement areas to ensure that they can indeed supply the nation with food.

Next week, I will continue this theme and look at the data on production and imports over time in a bit more detail. Since 2000 there is little doubt Zimbabwe is in a new era, and policy responses have to take this into account.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 
At 5:00 PM , Blogger MrK said...

FOLLOW-UP - the situation is 'not as disastrous' as predicted by the usual suspects:

(ZIMBABWELAND) Millions at risk of food insecurity in Zimbabwe? Or not? How the dire predictions were confounded by a good harvest
June 23, 2014 · 5:43 am

Last September I critiqued the assumptions behind the prediction that 2.2 million people would be needing food aid. In order to raise funds and galvanise attention, international agencies, local lobby groups and the media were using an extreme worst case scenario figure, based on a variety of assumptions, many of them highly questionable.

As it turned out, the rains arrived and a good season has followed (with some exceptions of course). In the section below, I offer some extracts from the most recent USAID-funded FEWSNET update on the food security situation in Zimbabwe. Good rains have boosted production and the current food security projections to September are largely very positive.

It is amazing what a change in the weather can do. But it also adds to my earlier plea to be cautious about headline figures and assumptions in forward projections. There is no harm in being cautious – this must be the sensible stance – but overblown figures and dramatic proclamations that serve particular interests should be guarded against.

Unlike the portrayals of imminent doom, the relatively good news about a reasonable harvest does not hit the headlines, or raise aid money, and the bad news stories from Zimbabwe persist. So for a change, and in case you are not regular readers of FEWSNET bulletins, I thought you would like an update on a good harvest and a reasonably positive food security situation

Here is a summary edited from from the May update:

The majority of very poor households across the country including the traditionally food insecure southwestern districts, will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes between May and June owing to the projected above average 2013/14 harvest. Similar outcomes will continue from July through September as most households will still be consuming cereals from own production.

Markets will continue functioning but most of the cereal supplies are likely to be locally procured with a few imports by private traders. As households begin to access cereal from their own production there have been significant reductions in monthly maize grain price trends. Since March, national maize grain prices have dropped by 11 percent, but in comparison to national averages during the same period last year the prices are still 16 percent higher. For maize meal the national average stands at $0.66 and has decreased by 2 percent in comparison to the same time the previous month, but remains 4 percent higher than the national average for same time last year. Month-on-month maize grain prices fell by 26 and 16 percent in Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces, respectively.

 
At 5:00 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Continued...


Casual labor opportunities are projected to increase by up to 20 percent throughout the outlook period as a result of ongoing harvesting activities. Additional incomes, particularly in the northern areas, will be earned through tobacco preparation, sales and casual labor for poor households. However given cash constraints, most casual labor will likely be paid by in-kind.

The first round results of the Ministry’s crop and livestock assessment indicate that there are increased chances of an above average harvest, especially for maize, millet, and sorghum. This assumption is based on an estimated 16 percent increase in cropped area for cereals this season in comparison to the 2012/13 season. Maize alone this season accounts for approximately 1.6 million hectares, which is an 18 percent increase from the previous season. This increase in area planted for cereals is due to fairly well distributed rainfall patterns this season.

Ongoing tobacco curing and sales are boosting household income, particularly in the northern areas, where production levels are projected to have significantly increased. Based on the first round assessment, this year’s production levels has surpassed the 2012-13 season by about 21 percent. At the household level, higher than average tobacco production will increase farmer income levels and opportunities for casual labor opportunities (i.e. curing, processing, transportation) for poor households. Households benefiting from this labor will therefore receive additional income for food purchases and other livelihood needs.

Cotton production this season is 16 percent below last year’s levels. The processing of cotton is ongoing in cotton growing areas but incomes are likely to remain low. The reduction in the area under cotton is due to marketing price uncertainty given the low marketing prices offered during the previous season.

The increase in the availability of water due to the good rainfall this season will increase gardening activities from May through September. Vegetable production will provide both food and cash to very poor households.

Livestock body conditions in areas including Matebeleland South and Masvingo Provinces have significantly improved and are in good shape. Despite the improved pasture and water access for cattle, the calving rate included in the recent first round crop and livestock assessment report remains low at 49 percent, and only 2 percent higher than last season.

****

The FEWSNET report provides the assumptions it uses in this analysis, along with some useful graphics. The second assessment report is due shortly and this will update the situation. Certainly the tobacco harvest looks promising, and reports from many parts of the country shows grain production is good.

So, thankfully 2.2 million people in Zimbabwe didn’t need food relief assistance, and the agricultural production has prospered in a good season. This however should be no reason for complacency. Droughts strike hard in a system where irrigation is not widespread, and improving resilience to such shocks must be a key part of future investments.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 
At 8:40 PM , Blogger MrK said...

It's 2015, so here we go again:

(NEWZIMBABWE) Declare hunger a national disaster, opposition urges government
20/11/2015 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

THE government should move swiftly and declare the crippling food shortages a national disaster to avert a possible humanitarian crisis.

In a statement Friday, the opposition People’s Democratic Party said it is “seriously concerned by government’s failure to declare a national disaster to avert the mass starvation stalking millions of people across the country as the food crisis worsens by the day”.

“Over 3.5 million Zimbabweans are now in need of food aid due to the severe drought effects the country is going through and the lack of preparedness …

“ … and focus on the part of the government of the day to handle this crisis including its failure to support farmers,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.

Since the turn of the century when President Robert Mugabe’s government embarked on the controversial land reform program, the country has suffered consistent food shortages exacerbated by successive droughts.

Rural citizens, in particular, have borne the brunt of the food shortages with some reportedly now surviving on “roots and wild berries”.

Said Mafume: “As the PDP, we demand that the government puts in place urgent disaster management mechanisms and declare a national disaster in the country in order to mitigate the suffering of the people, at a time when rural poverty is now reported to be at 76 percent.

“The 2015/2016 farming summer season has already been focused to be worse than the previous season due to the effects of the severe effects El Nino, the economic and political instability, but nothing is being done by the government to avert the situation.”

The national weather bureau on Wednesday announced that the country is likely to experience another drought this coming season.

Mafume said President Mugabe, instead of sourcing for funds to save people, is looking for funds to fund his party annual jamboree.

“Zimbabwe continues to face serious economic and political challenges due to Zanu PF’s infighting and this has created a further crisis on food security, especially to the vulnerable groups in the rural areas.

“Instead of finding solutions on how to avert the national food crisis, Zanu PF has decided to look for $3 million to fund its conference to be held in the resort town of Victoria Falls where thousands of delegates will wine and dine when millions of Zimbabweans are going for days without having had a decent meal,” the PDP spokesperson said.

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The PDP also condemned “the partisan and patronage system that is being used by Grace Mugabe and other Zanu PF officials in distributing food aid to selected Zanu PF sympathisers while known opposition supporters are being left out”.

“The food being distributed was sourced through government channels and it is callous to leave out other deserving and vulnerable members of society,” the party argued.

“The government is now being forced to import maize grown by displaced white commercials farmers who are now farming in countries such as Zambia and Mozambique.

“Through its Holistic Programme for Economic Transformation (HOPE), the PDP proposes an urgent solution to the erratic rainy seasons, collapsed agriculture output and the absence of alternative agricultural water sources”.

 
At 6:44 AM , Blogger MrK said...

It's 2016, so... of course this year it is 4.5 million people 'at risk' of starvation.

http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-30409-Deaths+feared+as+hunger+stalks+4.5mln/news.aspx

Deaths feared as hunger stalks 4.5mln

MAFIOS Ganyari tills a dry, patch of land, coaxing a few thin cassava tubers from the soil. This year's harvest has been poor. Mafios has barely enough to feed his family.

Farmers across Zimbabwe have lost cattle and crops and fear more pain as the year progresses.

"Three or four months to come, if nothing is taken as an assistance then surely it means people are going to die. You will hear the stories of dying here and there," he said.

Southern Africa has been hard hit over the past year by drought exacerbated by El Niño, a warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said up to 4.5 million people, half of Zimbabwe's drought-stricken rural population, will need aid by next March.

Child hunger and deaths are rising according to Save the Children.

"If they don't get aid as quickly as possible these people may end up dying or maybe malnourishment will increase to their children or they will even starve to death.

"So it is a matter of life and death for them," said Paidamoyo Madimutsa, a social worker in Mbire District in central Zimbabwe.

The impact of the drought is particularly serious for Zimbabwe, where the economy has been struggling for five years to recover from a catastrophic recession that was marked by billion percent hyperinflation and widespread food shortages.

In rural areas, finding clean water has also become difficult as water sources dry up. Women and children are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

"Sometimes when we take this water home, children get so sick from this water. We try and boil it before we drink," said Violet Jeremiah, a Mbire resident.

Zimbabwe has appealed for 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in aid to help pay for grain and other food.

 
At 1:47 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Did the WFP just admit that they use Zimbabwe to fundraise?

(NEWZIMBABWE) World Food Programme says 300,000 at risk

THE estimated 4, 5 million Zimbabweans affected by El-Nino-induced drought could be at risk after the World Food Programme (WFP) revealed its food assistance programme may be forced to wind-down prematurely owing to $70 million shortfall.

WFP revealed in its August report that it can no longer guarantee the food security of the millions it is helping unless the funding gap is filled.

“WFP’s El Niño Response, which runs through March 2017, continues to face a US$70 million shortfall.

“WFP is prioritising its assistance to meet the emergency needs of affected people, however, without sufficient funding, WFP will be unable to continue providing this life saving assistance,” read the report.

 

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