Through its programmes in more than 90 countries across the world, UNICEF is working on making good nutrition a reality for the children, families and communities that need it most.

Mother Breastfeeding Baby

The Challenge

Stunting (definition):

With over one quarter of Zimbabwean children stunted, concerted efforts are being made to reduce this crippling condition. Stunting slows down children’s growth and brain development affecting performance in school and its impacts are felt later on in life.

Micronutrient deficiencies:

Studies done in country in children 6 to 59 months have shown that:

  • One in four children has vitamin A deficiency.
  • About 72% are living with iron deficiency, while
  • One in three have iron deficiency anaemia

In women of reproductive age:

  • One in four women have vitamin A deficiency
  • Six in ten women have iron deficiency, while 26% are anaemic.

Child nutrition in the country is affected by a mix of factors, including:

  • inadequate knowledge among mothers and caregivers of appropriate and healthy diets, especially in the first 1,000 days of life. Only 4% of children in Zimbabwe are receiving a minimum acceptable diet (NNS, 2018)
  • weak coordination and inadequate resources for high-impact nutrition interventions (nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions)
  • Inadequate knowledge and practices about water, sanitation and hygiene and other pro-health measures, such as immunization, family planning and malaria control.
Mother feeding baby

Malnutrition results in the loss of millions of young lives every year: but together, we can prevent this.

The Solution

A young girl receives a dosage of vitamin A by medical technician
A young girl receives a dosage of vitamin A by medical technician

Guided by the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (a commitment of Member States to undertake ten years of sustained and coherent implementation of policies and programmes, following the recommendations and commitments of the ICN2 Framework for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) UNICEF Zimbabwe has developed a 5-year strategic plan to address the challenges sited above. The strategy is aimed at increasing visibility of nutrition action at the highest level and ensure coordination, strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration, create synergies and measure progress towards sustainable nutrition security for all.  

Zimbabwe has defined two key packages for delivering of nutrition services: the optimum and the standard packages. The optimum nutrition package is a comprehensive compendium of nutrition core interventions delivered through the multi sector community based model for stunting reduction (MCBM) in 31 (52%) districts across Zimbabwe. The Standard package constitutes the minimum interventions needed to sustain prevention and treatment of malnutrition; this package had vocation to be implemented in the whole country.


Key Achievements

  • Of all the health care facilities in Zimbabwe, 97% are offering integrated management of acute malnutrition services
  • VAS task sharing by village health workers
  • National food fortification programme
  • Enabling environment (operating within the food and nutrition security policy and ZIMASSET)
  • Collaboration with other UN partners
  • Stunting reduction from 33% in 2010 to 26% in 2018
  • Increased EBF rate from 48% in 2010  to 61% in 2018