Zimbabwe: Urban feeding for some city children


  • Supplementary feeding programmes are helping the children of some of Zimbabwe's struggling city dwellers, who have been battered by the shocks of inflation, food shortages and unemployment.
    Previously, relief operations were directed at people living in rural areas. But aid workers have started turning their attention to impoverished city dwellers, who do not have the cash to buy food and no crops to look forward to in lean times.

One of the programmes providing hope to worried mothers is a pilot supplementary feeding scheme for children under the age of six, run by NGO Help Germany in four clinics in the capital Harare.

Following the successful launch of their pilot programme in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo in March, the NGO is now operating in clinics in Mbare, Mabvuku, Tafara and Hatcliffe, dispensing nutritious corn soya blend and oil provided by the World Food Programme (WFP).

The clinics are identifying children who are underweight or not picking up weight and referring them to Help Age, where they receive the supplementary food packages, Help Germany coordinator Hans Sittig told PlusNews.

"We started with a pilot phase because only 10 percent of the children [in the areas] were being brought in for their weigh-ins, so we wanted to see what the response would be. With word of mouth we have seen a great upturn in clinic attendance," he said.

The organisation hopes to reach up to 90,000 children when the programme is extended to other areas, eventually operating in 33 clinics in Harare and 17 in Bulawayo.

Another programme is the Mashambanzou Care Trust in Waterfalls, Harare, which provides food supplied by WFP, and other assistance to 1,000 families and 4,000 orphans coping with the effects of HIV/AIDS. It also runs a creche that feeds 120 children and a care unit for 28 critically ill people.

Mashambanzou, which means "the dawn of a new day/life" is an interdenominational organisation operating in Harare and the nearby Porta Farm and Epworth informal settlements.

It was founded in 1989 by Sister Noreen Nolan, a nurse and laboratory technician who encountered the HI virus in her work and had "seen the storm clouds gathering", co-coordinator Sister Margaret McAllen explained.

Over 400 trained Mashambanzou volunteers from the community are in contact with the people in the area, while a palliative care centre manned by a matron and nurses provides care for the terminally ill. "The orphans live within the community and we support the grandmothers and families looking after them," Sister Margaret said. "The creches give the carers and grandmothers an opportunity to rest, and give the children some stimulation."


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