UNICEF Calls for Urgent Humanitarian Aid in Zimbabwe

UNICEF has urgently requested USD 84.9 million to support its emergency response efforts aimed at aiding children and women affected by the El Nino crisis in Zimbabwe. This funding will facilitate life-saving interventions for 1.34 million individuals, including 866,000 children, amid a complex humanitarian crisis exacerbated by water and food shortages.

Zimbabwe is facing an El Nino emergency, significantly affecting children under five years old, pregnant and lactating women and adolescents. The challenges stem from El Nino’s impact in Zimbabwe, leading to heightened public health issues and emergencies such as cholera and polio outbreaks, contributing to a multifaceted humanitarian crisis.

The El Nino-induced drought has resulted in various health concerns for children, including disease outbreaks, infectious and respiratory illnesses, and increased levels of malnutrition. Water scarcity is expected to exacerbate the spread of diarrheal and other water-related diseases among children, compounded by reduced immunity due to malnutrition.

Furthermore, the drought has heightened household poverty and vulnerability, increasing the risk of school dropouts, violence, and exploitation against children.

Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Representative and interim in Zimbabwe, highlighted concerns regarding decreased access to clean water and poor nutrition, which heighten the risk of malnutrition and diarrheal diseases among children, impacting their rights to education and protection.

We urge the donor community to generously support UNICEF’s appeal, emphasizing the critical need to safeguard children’s rights to health, education, and protection during this crisis,” said Dr. Alipui.

UNICEF’s appeal aligns with the recently launched UN-interagency appeal to support the Government’s response to the El Nino-induced emergency. It primarily focuses on ensuring continued access to integrated health, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, education, and child protection services for children and their caregivers, in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe and partners.

Dr. Alipui emphasized that the funding will help mitigate child morbidity and mortality, prevent malnutrition, enhance water access, ensure continuous learning for children, and protect them against abuse and exploitation, while also strengthening household resilience to cope with the crisis.

The repercussions of the current drought are expected to persist into the next year, impacting child nutrition as household-level food production and stocks will be severely depleted. Given the enduring impact of El Nino on Zimbabwe’s children and vulnerable populations, sustained support will be essential in the coming months.

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