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Hunger fuels spike in school dropouts

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GOVERNMENT has been urged to scale up its funding for the supplementary feeding programme in rural schools amid reports of a sharp increase in school dropouts due to hunger.

BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

Speaking at a recent National Budget analysis and tracking workshop in Harare, Rural Enterprise Trust Zimbabwe board chairperson, Tawanda Mandevhana said a recent survey commissioned by his organisation had revealed that poor results recorded at most rural schools were also caused by hunger.

He said one in every four children in the country had stunted growth affecting their cognitive ability and health due to lack of nutritious foods, particularly in rural areas.

The joint National Budget analysis and tracking workshop was looking into lobbying the government to increase funding for agricultural support and supplementary feeding schemes in rural communities.

“One in four children in Zimbabwe is stunted and this is affecting the overall gross domestic product in the country as people spend time in hospitals than working,” Mandevhana said.

He said the government should tackle the problem through the National Budget.

“The country has to develop transformative budgets, which look up to the welfare of their people. Nutrition is a core area of the improvement of people’s livelihoods,” he added.
Zimbabwe has relied on development partners for provision of drought relief food over the past seasons.

To mitigate the problem of malnutrition, the government recently passed legislation for compulsory fortification of maize meal and other foodstuffs, but the move is being resisted by grain millers, who have asked for more time before they can implement the directive.

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