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Half Zimbabwe's population now extremely poor

ALMoSt half of Zimbabwe's population has become extremely poor because of the impact of Covid-19 and the economic contraction, a new survey has shown.

the 2020 Rapid Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey (PICES), conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) in partnership with the World bank and unicef, found that the extreme poverty was due to "the combined effects of increase in the price of basic necessities, economic contraction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and poor harvests".

The PICES is a critical survey, which provides critical data that is used by the government in informing national policy for social welfare programmes, poverty mapping; and studying income disparities among socio-economic groups, among other vital information that is used across all sectors.

World bank country manager for Zimbabwe, Mukami Kariuki said the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed significantly to the poverty in the country.

"The pandemic's socio-economic effects continue to cause suffering in communities," Kariuki said.

"The Rapid-PICES exercise captures policy-relevant information that can be used to design strategies to assist communities and mitigate the impact of the pandemic."

The survey report released on Friday also noted that 63% of Zimbabwe's population was keen to get vaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19 if the vaccine was made available free of charge while the food insecurity level remained high with 61% of the total population and 71% of the rural population in severe or moderate food insecurity.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the report said, continued to play a negative role in keeping children out of school.

"Children have continued to bear the brunt of the pandemic. As results of this round of the survey show, only 40% of children were engaged in some form of remote learning, while access to essential health interventions has reduced," Unicef representative Tajudeen Oyewale said.

"Social protection coverage has also been impacted, and I call upon all stakeholders to come together to support the country's protection programmes."

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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