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580 000 Zim children are experiencing child food poverty -UNICEF

By Staff Writer

UNITED Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 580 000 children are experiencing child food poverty on the back of a chilling hint that the number could rise further due to impacts of the El Nino induced drought.

In Zimbabwe, the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on child diet quality are still being seen, with the addition of multiple health outbreaks, including cholera, the impacts of the climate crisis, and rising food prices. These factors are all driving child food poverty in Zimbabwe.

“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,” said Dr Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Representative ai in Zimbabwe, “It is urgent to address child food poverty today to avoid more children being pushed into a life-threatening status of severe malnutrition.”

In Zimbabwe, less than one in ten children consume a daily diet containing five or more food groups, with the frequency required to ensure optimal growth and development.

The UNICEF report highlights a concerning link – 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 activities focus on making nutrient-dense foods more available and accessible at household level through a network of community-based support programmes to caregivers known as Care Groups, with links to relevant services in health, water, sanitation and hygiene, social protection, and agriculture.

Said Dr Alipui; “To scale up community-based nutrition activities, additional support is needed from Government, development and humanitarian partners, national and international civil society and non-governmental organisations, and the private sector.”
Community-based nutrition programmes addressing child food poverty among the children of Zimbabwe are essential to deliver nutritious, safe and affordable foods and essential nutrition services for children throughout the country.

UNICEF said the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on child diet quality are still being seen, with the addition of multiple health outbreaks, including cholera, the impacts of the climate crisis, and rising food prices, all driving child food poverty in Zimbabwe.

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