THE United Nations has declared Binga as the worst drought hit district in the country with the highest number of malnourished children and school drop outs.
Bishow Parajuli, the resident UN Coordinator, made the announcement Saturday after completing a two-day field visit to Matabeleland North province where they were assessing the impact the El Niño induced drought.
“The situation in Binga District calls for an increased and continued humanitarian assistance, including food, nutrition, school meal, animal feed and water,” he said in a statement.
Parajuli said they visited Simatelele Clinic which is supported by Save the Children and the UN agencies (UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UN Women, WHO and the World Bank) where they discovered that the health facility was overwhelmed by malnourished children.
“This health care facility is tackling increasing cases of malnutrition, regularly screening over 18,000 children monthly out of a total 22,000 children,” said the UN envoy.
“The clinic showed that due to the prevailing unprecedented drought situation, several hard hit localities have become hot-spots of high malnutrition. In this regard, the UN would like to appeal to the local administrations and the media to report on this localized high level of malnutrition rates regularly to garner timely national and international response.”
The UN delegation also noted with concern the increasing number of children who were dropping out of school owing to the debilitating hunger.
“Equally important, there is an urgent need for school meals intervention as students in schools such as the Simatelele primary and secondary have witnessed dropouts and scanty attendance,” said Parajuli.
“Local Administration, Schools management and students consulted attributed the sporadic missing of classes to hunger.”
The El Nino induced drought has contributed to large-scale crop failure and livestock deaths across the country leaving 4 million Zimbabweans in urgent need of food aid.
The El Nino, a weather pattern which recurs every two to seven years, has caused severe drought bringing hardship to 50 million people across Southern Africa.