UNICEF warns of prolonged impact of drought on children Unicef Zimbabwe Chief of Communication Yves Willemot addresses Bulawayo journalists

Nqobile Tshili

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UNICEF has said the impact of El Nino induced drought on children is expected to be felt up to next year if urgent mitigation programmes are not implemented.

The country is experiencing a drought with at least 7,7 million citizens needing food aid following low rainfalls received in the 2023/24 rainy season.

Unicef has projected that almost 500,000 children might suffer from malnutrition if corrective steps are not taken immediately.

In response to President Mnangagwa’s declaration of drought as a state of disaster, Unicef has made an emergency call to raise US$84,9 million to respond to the crisis.

Bulawayo journalists following proceedings

The Unicef communication team is today in Bulawayo where it is engaging journalists on programmes that the UN child rights body has undertaken to cushion children and families from the adverse effects of drought.

Unicef Zimbabwe chief of communication, Mr Yves Willemot said there is a need to keep children in school as it is difficult to bring them back to the education sector when pupils drop out of school.

He said in disaster situations there is a need to prevent the exploitation of children who are sometimes used as child labourers.

Mr Willemot said climate change has become a child rights crisis and there is a need to increase child-centred climate investments.

He said there is a need to scale up climate resilience programmes including access to health, education, water and sanitation given the climate-induced crisis and how it impacts children.

Mr Willemot said there is a need to prevent child malnutrition in the face of drought.

He said there are two types of malnutrition acute and chronic and malnutrition makes children more vulnerable to other diseases that lead to death.

Mr Willemot said it is worth noting that Bulawayo has not been affected by cholera cases despite the country recording an outbreak of the disease, killing scores of people in other parts of the country.

He said there is a need for collaborative efforts in addressing child rights issues and Unicef works closely with Government to address their challenges.

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