Malnutrition wreaks havoc in Matabeleland

Unsteadily supported by her matchstick legs, three-year-old Liberty Ngulube (not her real name) eagerly clutched her undernourished mother’s flattened breast and sucked. Nothing. The milk has dried up.

About a dozen other children lay in the dust at Libeni primary school in Ntabazinduna in Matabeleland North, where their mothers had come to receive food aid from the World Food Programme. This picture is typical in most drought-prone areas in Matabeleland, where villagers are bearing the brunt of consecutive poor harvests.

This has led to serious malnutrition in both children and adults. A recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) indicates that about 3,3% of children below the age of five in Zimbabwe suffer from wasting while 27,6 % children of the same age group are stunted.

“Both the Zimbabwe National Nutritional Survey and the Multiple Indicator Survey have proved that Tsholotsho and Binga face serious nutritional challenges. Cases of stunting, underweight and wasting are prevalent in these areas,” said Fungai Gutusa, World Vision Nutrition Coordinator.

Nyanga district, which is one of the high rainfall areas in the country, is also grappling with child stunting and underweight.

“Malnutrition literally means bad nutrition and technically includes both over and under nutrition. In the context of places like Nyanga where there is relative food security compared to areas like Tsholotso, over-nutrition is the main cause of malnutrition. Nyanga is a banana producing area and we have discovered that most children consume excessive amounts of bananas at the expense of micronutrients and other nutritional foods,” she explained.

The major micronutrient deficiencies are Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A and Iodine. According to the 2012 Ministry of Health and Child Welfare statistics, 26, 6 %rural children, 19, 5% urban children and 44% women were found to be iodine deficient.

Iodine deficiency causes goitre, increased incidence of still births, abortions, congenital abnormalities including cretinism and mental retardation.

Post published in: Food
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