Zimbabwe’s Children in Crisis: UNICEF Urges Urgent Support with $84.9 Million Appeal


UNICEF is urgently appealing for USD 84.9 million to fund its emergency response aimed at assisting children and women affected by the El Nino crisis in Zimbabwe. This funding will provide life-saving interventions to 1.34 million people, including 866,000 children, amidst a complex humanitarian crisis exacerbated by water and food shortages.

Zimbabwe is experiencing an El Nino emergency impacting severely children under five years, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescents. The challenges created by El Nino in Zimbabwe come at a time when the country is also faced with public health emergencies related to cholera and polio, putting Zimbabwe into a complex, multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis.

El Nino’s induced drought is creating numerous health issues affecting children, including disease outbreaks, infectious and respiratory illnesses, and increased levels of malnutrition. Water scarcity is expected to contribute to the spread of diarrheal and other water-scarce diseases among children exacerbated by reduced immunity in children because of malnutrition. The El Nino-induced drought is increasing household’s poverty and vulnerability and the risk of school dropouts and violence, and abuse and exploitation against children.

Dr Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Representative ai in Zimbabwe said: “We are particularly concerned about the vulnerability of children in this current emergency. Decreased access to clean water and a poor diet heightens the risk of malnutrition and diarrheal diseases among children and impacts on their rights to education and protection with the full impact of these intersecting factors expected to manifest only later. Hence the need for a front-facing preventive strategy to avert excess deaths in the months to come.” 

The UNICEF appeal is part of the UN-interagency appeal recently launched to support the Government’s response to the emergency caused by El Nino. 

UNICEF’s appeal focusses primarily on ensuring – in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe and partners – continued access of children and their caregivers to integrated health, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, education and child protection services. 

We are urging the donor community to generously support UNICEF’s appeal, emphasising the critical need to secure children’s rights to health, education, and protection during this crisis.

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 household to deal with the crisis,” stressed Dr Alipui.

The effects of the current drought will continue to impact child nutrition into next year as household level food production and stocks will be severely depleted.  

Given the enduring impact of El Nino on Zimbabwe’s children and vulnerable demographics, continued support will be crucial in the coming months.

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