Switzerland: Zimbabwe facing worst malnutrition rates in 15 years – UNICEF

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - 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, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The agency reported on Tuesday that the number of hungry families in the country had doubled in the last eight months. A national vulnerability assessment survey released in February shows nearly 2.8 million people in rural Zimbabwe, or 30 per cent of the rural population, will require food assistance, of which 1.4 million were children.

“Families in rural Zimbabwe are locked in a struggle for survival after two consecutive seasons of failed rains, attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon,” UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva, according to a UN statement.

Those seasons of failed rains had diminished food harvests and reserves, increased hunger and malnutrition, dried up water sources and decimated livestock, he said.

As often in such cases, children are enduring the greatest force of the crisis. Overall, 2.1 per cent of children under five years old in Zimbabwe had severe acute malnutrition, exceeding the international threshold of two per cent that indicated the need for an emergency response, he noted. The majority of children with severe acute malnutrition are between one and two years old.

In this situation, he added, children faced increased risks of child labour, early marriage and violence, and there were also risks of disease arising from the lack of access to safe water.

In response to a question, Mr. Boulierac said that the Zimbabwean Government had declared a state of disaster and had launched an appeal for US$1.5 billion, but it was not known how much of that sum had been raised. UNICEF is appealing for US$21 million, out of which US$430,000 has been mobilized so far.
-0- PANA MA 16March2016

16 march 2016 06:02:17

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