Child hunger and deaths are rising in Zimbabwe due to the worst drought in two decades, with thousands facing starvation by the end of the year without additional aid, an international charity said yesterday.
Southern Africa has been hard hit over the past year by drought exacerbated by El Nino, a warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which has wilted crops, slowed economic growth and driven food prices higher.
“This is an emergency,” Save the Children UK’s interim chief executive Tanya Steele said after visiting Binga on Zimbabwe’s western border with Zambia.
“Some children are already dying of complications from malnutrition.”
Mothers were foraging for berries and roots to feed their children, while going without food themselves for up to five days, the charity said.
The number of under-fives who had died of hunger-related causes in Binga town had reached 200 over the last 18 months – triple the usual rate, it said.
More than 60 million people, two thirds of them in east and southern Africa, are facing food shortages because of droughts linked to El Nino, according to the United Nations.