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United Nations agency appeals for US$85 million to fund El Nino response programmes in Zimbabwe

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By Leopold Munhende


THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is appealing for US$84.9 million to fund its El Nino response programmes in Zimbabwe.

According to the United Nations (UN) agency, 866 000 children face adverse effects of a virtually dry farming season that has left over 1.3 million food insecure.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Africa’s southern region, hardest hit by an El Nino-induced drought.

Its situation has been worsened by an over two-decades-long economic crisis that has, informalised the country’s economy, devalued wages and eroded any chance of work opportunities.

In a statement released on Monday, UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Nicholas Alipui said the shortage of potable water was creating a unique crisis in the country already battling “diarrheal diseases” such as cholera and typhoid.

“We are particularly concerned about the vulnerability of children in this current emergency,” said Alipui.

“The funding will help mitigate child morbidity and mortality, prevent malnutrition and provide treatment, enhance water access, ensure continuous learning for children, and protect children against abuse and exploitation.

“It will also help strengthen the resilience of the household to deal with the crisis.”

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Nearly 3.5 million people were estimated to be acutely food insecure by another UN agency, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

As a result of the drought, whose results are highlighted by severe temperatures in the country’s southern provinces and poor rainfall across, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared it a national disaster.

Mnangagwa appealed for US$2 billion worth of aid to avoid a disaster.

Prices of grain have steadily been on an increase despite government assurances Zimbabwe has enough to last up till September.

Villagers in Mwenezi, who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com during a recent tour, said they already do not have anything to eat and were banking on the government to feed them.

Their maize crops wilted under the scorching heat, with a handful who opted for smaller grains such as millet and sorghum saying it would only last them a few weeks.