Government’s support to vulnerable populations noteworthy – ZimVac report

Health and Child Care Minister, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga

By Nyasha Mutena

A report was conducted by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) led by the Food and Nutrition Council (FNC) in May 2021 to inform planning for targeted interventions to help vulnerable people and to monitor and report on commitments within the guiding frameworks of food and nutrition policies.

Among them are the National Development Strategy (NDS1) 2021-2025, the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and the Zero Hunger Strategy.

The report highlighted that reduction in the prevalence of food insecurity from 56% the previous year to 27% this year is worth noting.

“This reflects Governments ability to reduce the problem by over 50% compared to the previous season, hence the right step towards achieving one of the country’s goals in the NDS1, particularly of ensuring a food surplus economy,” said Senator Monica Mutsvangwa during a Cabinet briefing.

The 27% of rural households translates to approximately 2 942 897 individuals requiring 262 856 MT of cereal (maize grain).

The report also noted that Financial constraints, age and adolescent pregnancy are some of the notable reasons why about 23% of children are not in school.

Relaying Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga’s presentation to Cabinet, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the government remains committed to assisting both school girls and boys through free education initiatives such as the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM).

“BEAM supported 1.5 million learners out of the 4.5 million learners in school. BEAM’s coverage has been extended from tuition fees to include examination fees and stationery.

“The Committee further highlights the need to provide sanitary wear to the girl child so as to reduce the drop outs of girls from school,” She said.

She acknowledged that the government’s efforts to improve livelihoods have not gone unnoticed.

“On social protection, government is commended for maintaining consistency in its support of the vulnerable population. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has witnessed increased support from Treasury and, a reduction of assistance from the Development Partners”.

Senator Mutsvangwa stated that approximately 54% of households received support from Government, with Development Partners complementing these efforts by supporting 25% of the households.

“The average household monthly income increased from USD 33 in 2020 to USD 75 in 2021. Generally, it is observed that there are a number of communities with irrigation schemes (27%) across the country, said Senator Mutsvangwa.

According to the 2021 Second Round Crop Assessment Report, a targeted movement of food from surplus areas to vulnerable areas will be undertaken since the country is generally expecting 828 263 MT of cereal surplus.

The findings further revealed that a well-coordinated government assistance programme to smallholder farmers buttressed by availability of inputs on the market as well as normal to above normal rainfall during the 2020-2021 farming season resulted in the country’s 2021 maize and traditional grains production by over 147.5% compared to the 2020 harvest.

“The Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme recorded a significant adoption rate, with 52% of households practising it and 56% of the sampled households having been trained within one year of its inception,” said Senator Mutsvangwa.

She stressed that government will accelerate the setting up of irrigation schemes to improve access to reliable sources of water for agricultural production.

Among the Government’s great strides, the ZimVac report said there is no child labour being practised in the country. It also reported that 99% of people did not experience food insufficiency and the Government is the main source of support to vulnerable households.

The report will be publicised in all the sixteen official languages in-order to reach wide coverage.