At least 80,000 school-going children in three drought-hit provinces risk losing out on education because of hunger which has reached alarming levels, the World Food Programme (WFP) has announced.
WFP said the affected provinces include Matebeleland North, Midlands and Mashonaland Central.
The country is experiencing a serious shortage of cereals owing to the El Nino induced drought which affected most parts of the Southern African region in the 2015-2016 farming season.
The drought, which saw the government declare a State of Emergency in February and appeal for international help, has left an estimated four million Zimbabweans needing food aid.
WFP, in partnership with government, launched the Emergency School Feeding Programme in July, targeting Midlands’ Zvishavane area and Mbire in Mashonaland Central, where children were failing to go to school because of hunger. The programme was expanded to Binga following similar reports.
“In July, the programme reached approximately 9,800 pupils in the two districts (Zvishavane and Mbire) and increased to some 38,500 pupils in the three districts in September.
“The ultimate goal is to reach 77,000 primary school children in these three districts up until April 2017,” WFP Zimbabwe representative, Eddie Rowe, said Monday a statement to mark World Food Day which celebrated on 16 October every year.
Rowe said they were urging other UN agencies to increase their efforts and mobilise resources so that “we guard children against malnutrition, encourage learning and create some sense of normality”.
“The future begins with food, and we’re helping build it through schools,” he said.
“If we are able to end hunger, we will give future generations the possibility of pursuing their development dreams, and the energy to make them come true.”