C-SAFE food distributions target child malnutrition in urban Harare

By Kristy Allen-Shirley
Vulnerable children in Zimbabwe's capital Harare are benefiting from complementary feeding aimed at increasing their nutritional status and preventing the onset of chronic malnutrition.

The C-SAFE daily provision of corn-soy-blend (CSB) is supplied to 1,274 children under the age of five in the urban Porta Farms community, an area located within World Vision's Dzivarasekwa Area Development Programme.

USAID Food For Peace (FFP) is donating the essential rations to C-SAFE, a consortium formed by World Vision, Catholic Relief Services and CARE, who are working together to address the food security crisis faced by Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.

Matthew Chadambuka, local counsellor of Porta Farms is most concerned about the food security situation faced by his community.

"Our climate is getting drier and drier -- we need food. It is now December and we have no rains, in fact, we had little last year. The future for us does not look promising. We cope by selling what little we can grow -- maize, beans, groundnuts -- among ourselves. Many people also work on local farms or fish at the local lake."

Mr Chadambuka is however grateful for the one meal a day the children receive courtesy of C-SAFE. "The cup of porridge is perhaps the only meal they will have in a day -- the programme has relieved the burden on parents to find food for the children during these hard times."

At the onset of C-SAFE's work in Porta Farms in July, 4.2% of the 1,274 children were suffering moderate malnutrition. The feeding programme that followed has since assisted households such as Betty Bulhani's, a 24-year-old mother of two.

Betty sells firewood to her community to generate income for her family. Three-year-old son John has benefited from the CSB ration for six months and daughter Blessing, 6mths, started just five days ago.

"My son is certainly healthier and can play more. In the five days Blessing has received the porridge, she has cried less. My biggest problem is money -- I just don't have enough to buy food or clothes for my family. My hope is that children will not be hungry and that they will grow up strong and healthy so that they can attend school."

According to Derick Brock, World Vision Zimbabwe's C-SAFE coordinator, "The feeding programme at Porta Farms is a good example of how C-SAFE is working to address the plight of the urban poor, particularly their health and nutritional needs."

The Porta Farms' targeted food distributions are conducted in addition to varied C-SAFE programmes in Zimbabwe, including supplementary feeding, plus Food-for-Work activities, which are designed to increase the productive assets of vulnerable communities.

In the period between April and October this year, C-SAFE's supplementary feeding programme benefited 290,285 people in Zimbabwe.

C-SAFE was established in 2002 in response to the food security emergency in the southern Africa region. The Consortium implements relief and recovery programs to improve nutritional status; protect productive assets and support households and communities to strengthen their resilience to current and future food security shocks that affect their well-being and livelihoods.