by Mirirai Nsingo
PERSISTENT droughts that have continued to ravage most parts of Binga in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North province has resulted in rise in cases of malnutrition in children, a Zimbabwe Red Cross Society official said.
Speaking during a tour of the district last week, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s Secretary General, Maxwell Phiri noted that malnutrition amongst children was causing a lot of challenges in disadvantaged communities around Zimbabwe, chief among them stunting and compromised brain development. Adding this could seriously derail gains on sustainable development goals.
In the face of the persistent drought, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is already implementing a child nutrition and food security programme targeting 15 000 in-school beneficiaries in Kariba rural and Binga districts with support from Danish Red Cross.
Binga district is one of the malnutrition ravaged areas with analysts saying some of the affected areas have moderate acute malnutrition of around 3.6 percent while some have severe acute malnutrition reaching 0.6 percent.Various school heads and community leaders interviewed commended the Red Cross for the initiative which has gone a long way in improving nutrition and food security in the beneficiary communities.
The general food insecurity in the area means parents can’t afford the ZWL$30 per term tuition fees and that coupled with the food situation was affecting enrollment.Zharare also highlighted that the fact that the 917 student enrollment had put her school above the threshold which qualifies it to receive funding from organisations like UNICEF.
Zharare’s sentiments were echoed by David Mudenda, the school head for Siyachilaba Primary in Binga district’s ward 7.Mudenda highlighted that the school was in one of the worst regions in terms of rainfall patterns and the community is affected by severe drought perennially hence the relevance of the Red Cross intervention.
The school head also revealed that while locals were relying on fishing for survival, proceeds from this venture didn’t amount for much.
Mudenda however bemoaned grain shortages that are affecting the smooth flow of the project.The grain is however running out given the huge numbers and this means we sometimes have to halt the feeding programme,” Mudenda. said.The Red Cross is also working to improve the water situation in some of the beneficiary schools in Binga given the low water table and plans are already in place to implement this initiative