3m face hunger in Zimbabwe: Unicef

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AN estimated three million Zimbabweans, including two million children, are estimated to require urgent humanitarian assistance across the country this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has revealed.

In its 2023 Zimbabwe Appeal: Humanitarian Action for Children report, the UN agency also said this year, millions more will need life-saving health, HIV and nutrition services.

“In 2023, an estimated three million people, including two million children are projected to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe due to the impact of food and nutrition crises induced by such natural hazards as drought, floods and disease outbreaks,” the Unicef report read.

“A total of 1,5 million people (972 000 females and 528 000 males), including 1,1 million children (572 000 girls and 528 000 boys), will need life-saving health, HIV and nutrition services. Unicef requires US$47,8 million to meet humanitarian needs in 2023, in (among other sectors) health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social protection. Unicef is aiming to dedicate 15% of the total appeal to gender equality.”

The UN agency said it is targeting to have at least 450 000 children vaccinated against measles and 1 559 735 children and women enabled to access primary healthcare facilities this year.

The organisation described the country’s humanitarian context as fragile, saying citizens chronically grapple with natural hazards that are exacerbated by climate change and economic instability.

“To adequately respond to the hazards affecting Zimbabwe, Unicef’s humanitarian strategy aims to strengthen cluster and sector26 coordination mechanisms; engage and partner with local civil society organisations to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance; and strengthen community-based response mechanisms, while also strengthening mechanisms for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, accountability to affected populations and social and behavioural change.

“An estimated 16% of households travel more than one kilometre to fetch water from the nearest main water source, with 29% travelling more than 500 metres, which is still too far according to the Sphere Standard.

“The erosion of the capacity of families to procure critical hygiene items has resulted in households and communities compromising safe sanitation and hygiene practices, thereby increasing the risk of Wash-related disease outbreaks,” the Unicef report said.

The UN agency said making women and girls walk long distances to the nearest water points makes them more vulnerable to rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based abuses.

Unicef’s report came after President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed at an Africa food security summit in Senegal last week that Zimbabwe was food secure. _*NewsDay*_

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