In 2002, Zimbabwe experienced a severe crop failure due to early termination of the rains in February. The reduction in yield and output at farm level led to a 70% shortfall in production to meet annual food requirements. This was the largest deficit in its food production history since 1980.This created severe food shortage in both urban and rural areas. The food shortages, in turn, deteriorated into a famine and a humanitarian disaster. The cereal deficit in the April 2002 – March 2003 marketing year was estimated at 1.65 million tonnes (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment, 2002). According to the Zimbabwe Emergency Food Security Assessment, 486 000 tonnes of food aid was needed to meet food security requirements of 6 700 000 people (49% of the population) over the period September 2002 to March 2003. Of the 6 700 000 requiring food aid, 5 900 000 were in rural areas and 850 000 in urban areas. Seventy percent of the rural population was at risk of famine-induced starvation (WFP, 2002). It was projected that the rural population at risk would increase to 80% and 100% by end of 2002 as households ran out of stocks. The scale of the food aid was unprecedented in the history of Zimbabwe.
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