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40 000 Zimbabwean children face starvation, claims Unicef

by Staff reporter
06 Apr 2021 at 06:48hrs | Views
MORE than 38 000 children in the country are facing acute starvation as guardians fail to access food due to the COVID19-induced economic hardships.

This was revealed by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) in its latest 2021 Humanitarian Action for Children report for Zimbabwe.

Unicef Zimbabwe also reported that due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a deteriorating economy, almost eight million people, including children, were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

"In Zimbabwe, an estimated 7,9 million people, including 4,1 million children, will be in urgent need of life-saving health services and humanitarian assistance in 2021 due to multiple hazards, including the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the economic crisis.

"More than 38 000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) need treatment. Unicef and partners are working in collaboration with the government to respond to the complex multi-hazard situation in Zimbabwe," the report read in part.

The humanitarian organisation noted that there was an increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, hence it would require more funds to curb starvation and enhance access to adequate healthcare during the pandemic.

Statistics revealed by Unicef early last month showed that over 39 000 children under the age of five were screened for acute malnutrition at health facilities at community level, while at least 2 000 children aged between six and 59 months were admitted and treated for severe acute malnutrition in January and February 2021.

"Acute malnutrition has increased from 3,6% in 2019 to 4,5% in 2020. In 2021, Unicef will scale up its support to government-led national and district co-ordination structures to enable the provision of multi-sectoral life-saving services and efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak," the report further read.

"Unicef requires US$74,7 million to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe in 2021, including US$18,9 million for emergency social cash transfers and US$16 million for the health response."

The humanitarian agency said although the country received normal to above normal rainfall in the 2020-21 farming season, the COVID-19 pandemic had reduced food sources for more than half of the population, with nearly 25% of the citizens failing to access basic commodities.

Government predicted that the 2020-21 maize harvest would triple to 2,8 million tonnes from 908 thousand tonnes of the previous farming season, hence the number of people facing starvation in the country was likely to decrease.

Rural dwellers are most affected by food shortages, according to the Unicef report.

Source - newsday

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