Child malnutrition in Zimbabwe increasing as emergency aid pipeline falters
New figures from Binga district indicate that 7.6% of children aged between six months and five years are suffering from acute malnutrition, up from 4.5% in October last year. Save the Children said the new statistics reflect growing concern that emergency supplies into Zimbabwe are faltering because not enough food is being donated by the international community.
Chronic, long-term malnutrition in Binga district is also up by around 50%. 31.2% of children under five are underweight from chronic malnutrition compared with 20.9% in October 2007.
Save the Children is distributing food to more than 200,000 people, using food brought into the country by the World Food Programme (WFP). But a lack of supplies means that the WFP is 18,000 tonnes short of the food needed for January, leaving it with only around half the amount it needs for the month. Supplies for February and March are even less certain.
Lynn Walker, Programmes Director for Save the Children in Zimbabwe, said: "In areas where we work some children are wasting away from lack of food. Compared with last year the indications are that things are significantly worse.
"We have already been forced to reduce the rations of emergency food we are delivering because there isn't enough to go around. If, as we fear, the food aid pipeline into Zimbabwe begins to fail in the new year the millions of people who rely on emergency food aid will suffer."
Save the Children called on world leaders to increase urgently the amount of food aid they are donating to Zimbabwe.
"Food aid for Zimbabwe goes through the World Food Programme and agencies like Save the Children, straight to the people who desperately need it," said Lynn Walker. "There is no excuse for failing to provide this food. The innocent people of Zimbabwe should not be made to suffer for a political situation that is out of their control."
Around five million people are in need of food aid in Zimbabwe, about half the country's entire population.