Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

Where we are

 MDG Goal 1 - Eradicate extreme poverty and hungerZimbabwe has become a net importer of food. The decline witnessed in overall national agricultural production can be attributed to adverse weather conditions, land disputes and smallholder farmers being unable to access inputs and credit. Photo - UNDP Zimbabwe
  • Approximately 5.1 million require food assistance.
  • According to 2003 PASS, 58 percent of households in Zimbabwe consumed less than 3 meals per day.
  • 4.4 percent acute malnutrition in children under 5 years
  • The population living below the Total consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) increased from 55 percent in 1995 to 72 percent in 2003.
  • In 2003, 63 percent of rural households and 53 percent of urban households were living below TCPL.
  • Feminization of poverty as depicted by higher prevalence of poverty among female-headed households at 68 percent TCPL in 2003.
  • Higher levels of malnutrition with children under 5 years of age increasing from 13 percent in 1999 to 17 percent in 2006.

Status and Trends

The increased number of people living below the Total Consump­tion Poverty Line in Zimbabwe, which stood at 72% in 2003, is likely to have since worsened due to the sharp economic decline between 2000 and 2008, which saw the GDP shrink by 40%.

Additional factors such as the significant decline in agricultural production during the same period, droughts and inadequate availability of agricultural inputs have combined and accentuated the impact of a declining economy on human welfare.

In relation to poverty trends, the 2007 MDG Mid-Term Progress Report showed that poor urban households increased from 45% in 1995 to about 61% in 2003, with the number of poor rural households increasing from 57% to 71% during the same period.  In addition to the effects of the worsened macro-economic situation in the last decade urban poverty was also directly affected by a rapidly shrinking manufacturing sector.

Human Development and the Poverty Index
The Human Development Indicator (HDI) and Human Poverty Index (HPI) for Zimbabwe show significant declines. The indicators worsened between 1995 and 2009: the HPI fell from 24% in 1995 to 40.3%in 2005, but rose to 34% in 2009. The HDI fell from 0.654 in 1990 to 0.613 in 1995, to 0.541 in 2000, and to 0.513 in 2005.

The rate of structural unemployment in Zimbabwe was 63% in 2003. Structural unemployment that same year was higher amongst females (70%) than males (56%) because of the latter’s dominance in the agriculture sector and the informal economy. Rural areas had a higher structural unemployment rate (62%) than urban areas (35%).

Food Security
Zimbabwe has become a net importer of food. The proportion of people living below the Food Poverty Line (FPL) increased from 29% in 1995 to 58% in 2003 and this number is likely to have increased since.

The decline witnessed in overall national agricultural production after 2000 can be attributed to adverse weather conditions and land disputes, and to smallholder farmers being unable to access inputs and credit.

The high level of malnutrition attributed to food insecurity is largely responsible for mortality and ill-health among children under five years of age.

Major Challenges to Achieving Goal 1

From the policy perspective, there is a need to address the land reform issue as one of the drivers for national agricultural revitali­sation, given the large numbers of people who are economically dependent on agriculture. Central to this is addressing the land tenure system for both communal and commercial farms, including property rights that would facilitate investment and accessibility to credit.

The national economy has lost its competitive edge and the ongoing investment climate has not been conducive to attracting new capital and investment. Additional external shocks and other vulnerabilities in the form of the food and fuel crises experienced during 2007 and 2008, as well as the 2009 financial and economic crisis and the impact of periodic droughts and floods, further increased this economic vulnerability.

Requirements for Achieving Goal 1

  • Supporting the land reform policy
  • Pursuing economic transformation by deepening the economic reforms in the  medium and long term through pro-poor and inclusive growth. The Medium-Term Plan 2010–2015 provides a good policy framework for this.
  • Pursuing governance reforms to create an environment conducive to sustainable  development.
  • Strengthening the social protection system
  • Strengthening bilateral and multilateral partnerships as a strategy towards resource mobilisation.

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