Zim’s poverty levels continue to worsen

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  • FPL for February 2021 moved up by 4.2%
  • TCPL moved up by 3.9%
  • Upwards moves despite downward shift in inflation

Zimbabwe’s poverty levels have continued their relentless climb into the month of February 2021, this time opposing a decline in inflation. COVID-19 induced lockdowns have had a knock-on effect on household incomes and this can explain the worsening poverty levels.

According to the latest data released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), the Food Poverty Datum Line (FPL) which represents the minimum amount of money that an individual will require to afford the minimum required daily energy intake of 2 100 calories increased by 4.2% from the January 2021 figure ZW$3768 to settle ZW$3934 in the month of February 2021.

At the same time, the Total Consumption Datum Line (TCPL) which is the minimum amount needed by an individual to purchase both non-food and food items moved in a month moved up by 3,9% from the January figure of ZW$4987 to ZW$5187 in the month of February.

This, therefore, means an average family of five needed an average of ZW$25 935 to survive the month of February 2021 in which the salaries of civil servants were cut by up to 2.5%, and economic activity in both the formal and informal sector was subdued to the imposition of another level four lockdown to curb a surge in COVID 19 cases, up from ZW$24 935 which was required in January 2021.

However, according to the statistics agency “The poverty datum lines vary by province as prices vary from place to place. The differences are explained by differences in average prices in the provinces,” with statistics historically showing that it is costlier to live in Mashonaland central than anywhere else in Zimbabwe.

This climb in poverty levels in February however contrasts the decline in the month-on-month rate witnessed in the same period.

According to the same statistics agency, month-on-month inflation came in at 3.45% after shedding 1.98 percentage points on the January 2021 rate of 5.43%.

Poverty levels however can be expected to subside later on in the year pursuant to an expected bumper harvest and increased food production resulting from the above-normal rainfall that has been received in the country so far.

The same bumper harvest together with a sharp recovery in commodity prices is expected to have the same slashing effect on inflation with the government targeting a rate of 10% by the end of the year, complemented by a 7.4% GDP growth.

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