Urban Zimbabweans battling with escalating prices are finding that more and more food essentials are beyond their reach.
"Malnutrition levels among the elderly and children are very high in the urban centres. A loaf of bread costs about Zim $3,500 (US 60 cents), which most ordinary Zimbabweans cannot afford to buy every day. The lowest paid Zimbabwean earns Zim $150,000 (about US $27)," said Fambai Ngirande, spokesperson for the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations.
Although food items were readily available in the urban markets, few ordinary Zimbabweans could afford to buy them, he said.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's latest monthly expenditure survey showed that the price of maize meal in urban markets had increased by 44 percent within a month.
In previous years, urban Zimbabweans faced with escalating prices would source cereals and other food items from rural areas as a "coping mechanism, but this time there is no food in the rural areas too," Ngirande said. To enforce the monopoly of the Grain Marketing Board, roadblocks prevented maize privately acquired in the countryside from being transported to towns.
The council reported that a monthly expenditure basket for a low-income urban household of six stood at more than Zim $1 million (about US $178.00) in June, up by 7 percent from their May survey, and about 436 percent more than in June last year.
Between May and June this year, the price of maize meal went up by 44 percent, sugar by 21 percent, tea 14 percent and flour 12 percent. "A meal of potatoes, which is cheaper than bread, will cost a family of four Zim $3,000 (about US 50 cents)," Ngirande said.
The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS-NET) said in its monthly food security update on Zimbabwe that over the past 12 months "rentals for shelter have increased by 400 percent and a significant number of poor households have been priced out of the market - they have been pushed to illegal settlements around the cities and towns."
The annual food inflation reported by Zimbabwe's Central Statistics Office stood at 430.6 percent in June, dropping by 51.2 percent from the May rate of 481.8 percent.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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