HARARE (Bloomberg) — About half of the Zimbabwe’s 14 million people lack reliable access to enough food as a result of the worst regional drought in almost 40 years, according to the Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
The situation is compounded by cyclone-induced floods earlier this year and an economic collapse that have left the southern African nation on the verge of its worst-ever famine.
“About half of the total population is food insecure,” Ncube said in an emailed copy of a speech to lawmakers attending a pre-budget consultation in the capital, Harare.
While the government has responded by declaring a state of disaster and distributed about 190,000 metric tons of corn to households — including those in cities for the first time ever — production of the staple is forecast to more than halve. Plans to import as much as 800,000 tons of the staple are complicated by an acute shortage of foreign exchange and prices have doubled.
The situation is exacerbated by rampant inflation, which stood at 17.7% a month in September. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency isn’t reporting year-on-year figures until February 2020, arguing that it needs the time to collect comparable data after the introduction of a new currency earlier this year. According to Bloomberg calculations prices rose more than fourfold from a year earlier.