Malnutrition on the rise in Zimbabwe as El Nino takes its toll
Harare, 15 March 2016: Zimbabwe is facing its worst malnutrition rates in 15 years, as nearly 33,000 children are in urgent need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition. As an El Nino-induced drought sweeps across large parts of the country, the number of hungry families in the country has doubled in the past eight months.
“Children are enduring the greatest force of this crisis,” said acting UNICEF Representative Dr. Jane Muita. “We have not seen these levels of malnutrition in more than 15 years and although the Government and its partners are doing their best to assist, more needs to be done to prevent this crisis from spiraling out of control.”
UNICEF said that two consecutive seasons of failed rains have diminished food harvests and reserves, increased hunger and malnutrition, dried up water sources and decimated livestock.
According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Survey released last month, nearly 2.8 million people in rural Zimbabwe (30 per cent of the rural population) will require food assistance, of which 1.4 million are children aged 18 years and below. The impact of the drought on households, according to the survey, is particularly stark and children are being adversely affected the following ways:
UNICEF is requesting US$21 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Zimbabwe in 2016. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of children in nutrition, health, water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS, education and child protection services. Interventions will focus on supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged women and children to withstand, adapt to and recover from this crisis.