ZIMBABWE is among the world’s top 10 countries where children are at risk of stunted and impaired physical and cognitive growth due to hunger-induced dietary challenges, the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.
BY PRECIOUS CHIDA
The joint report by the European Union, Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Children’s Fund, the United States Agency for International Development and World Food Programme anticipates a worsening food insecurity situation in 2020 with an estimated 4,3 million rural Zimbabweans, including children, in need of urgent action.
The current economic crisis including hyperinflation, shortage of currency, fuel and prolonged power shortages; widespread poverty; high levels of HIV and Aids; and low agricultural output were cited as drivers of the crisis.
According to the report, fewer than 20% of children between 6-23 months received a minimally adequate diet further compromising their lifelong quality of life.
“Food crises have a major impact on the quality, frequency and diversity of children’s diets and this is compounded by the inability for families across the country to provide adequate childcare during these increasingly challenging times,” Unicef representative, Laylee Moshiri said.
“More than half of the children experiencing malnutrition are living in countries affected by the food crisis. The Global Food Crisis Report Forecast (GFCRF) estimates that 75 million children worldwide are stunted and 17 million are wasted.”
“During this COVID-19 pandemic we must act decisively to continue essential nutrition and health services for all children.”
Zimbabwe remains in the grip of severe food insecurity, with millions of people already requiring humanitarian assistance due to prolonged drought, climate-related shocks, economic deterioration and the situation is set to worsen as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, according to the new GFCRF.
WFP country director and representative Eddie Rowe said: “Millions of Zimbabweans are already struggling to put food on the table, having faced prolonged droughts and economic hardship for some time. It is imperative that we unite to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe and provide urgent food assistance safely to prevent an already vulnerable population from slipping deeper into this hunger crisis.”