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UNICEF: 580 000 young children in Zimbabwe living in severe food shortage

food shortage in Zimbabwe

Around 580,000 children in Zimbabwe under 5 years of age are experiencing severe child food poverty, making them up to 50 percent more likely to experience wasting, a life-threatening form of malnutrition, a new global UNICEF report has revealed.

The nutrition and feeding practices during early childhood significantly impact children’s survival, growth, development, and lifelong learning.

In Zimbabwe, hundreds of thousands of children, especially the youngest aged between six months and two years, do not have access to the minimum nutritious foods they need during the time in their lives when good nutrition matters most for their growth and development.

UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Nicholas Alipui said:

Food insecurity among Zimbabwean children could further deteriorate in 2024 with the El Nino-induced drought that has caused above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall, with a ‘historic’ mid-season dry spell over the 2023/2024 agricultural season.

It is urgent to address child food poverty today to avoid more children being pushed into a life-threatening status of severe malnutrition.

The UNICEF report says that children living in severe food poverty are up to 50 per cent more likely to suffer from life-threatening malnutrition.

In line with “Zimbabwe’s Nutrition Narrative”, the Government of Zimbabwe with UNICEF and other partners, is implementing activities, under the “Multi-Sectoral Food and Nutrition Security Strategy”, to improve children’s diet diversity and prevent all forms of malnutrition.

These initiatives aim to enhance the availability and accessibility of nutrient-rich foods within households.

They operate through community-based support programs called Care Groups, which connect caregivers to essential services in health, water, sanitation, hygiene, social protection, and agriculture. Said Dr Alipui:

To scale up community-based nutrition activities, additional support is needed from the Government, development and humanitarian partners, national and international civil society and non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

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