Zimbabwe is a low-income, food-deficit country ranked as one of the world's 15 least developed countries at 172 out of 186 on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. Approximately 72 percent of Zimbabwe's 12.9 million citizens live below the poverty line on less than US$1 a day. The country is severely affected by HIV and AIDS, with a current HIV prevalence rate of 14.7%, and the prevalence of stunting for children under five years of age is 32%.
While the end of hyperinflation in 2009 had positive effects on food availability in the marketplace, Zimbabwe continues to battle poor liquidity and high unemployment rates. Despite some progress, challenges remain in attracting large-scale investment.
The 2013 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) rural livelihoods report, which estimates food insecurity levels, predicts that 2.2 million Zimbabweans will be unable to access sufficient food during the peak hunger period, January – March 2014. This is the highest level of food insecurity since 2009. WFP is responding with a Seasonal Targeted Assistance programme to help food-insecure households in the worst-affected areas. The rising food insecurity levels are due to a combination of factors, including weather conditions, the high cost or lack of availability of fertilisers and seeds, and rising food prices due to another poor harvest.
Meanwhile, WFP continues to implement its year-round Health and Nutrition programme which supports malnourished HIV/AIDS and TB patients and their households; pregnant and nursing mothers; and children under five years of age. WFP is also implementing a Food for Assets programme whereby community members receive food while creating assets - irrigation schemes or deep wells - that improve their ability to cope with recurrent drought and other such shocks.