By Michael Gwarisa
MANICALAND province recorded a 49% stunted growth rate in children in 2016, against an average of 26% owing to a high malnutrition incidence in the area.
Briefing a Child Parliamentarians engagement meeting on Nutrition Budget advocacy in Bindura, Sustainable Rural Community Development Organisation Executive Director January Mvula singled out the high prioritisation of cash crops over food crops as the major driver of malnutrition and stuntedness in children in the area.
“Stunting rate of Zimbabwe is at 27% with high number of boys. This Translate to 1 in every 4 Children is stunted.
“Mutare district has the highest stunting rate of 49% followed by Chimanimani , 42%, and Nkanyi 40%. All districts in Manicaland were above the average of 26%,” said Mvula.
He added that government budgets should lead to the crafting of policies and commitments that a re child friendly and also ensure services to children are delivered.
“Article 4 of the united nations convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) places an obligation on all governments to ensure that they commit national and global resources to the ‘maximum extent’ possible in order to implement children’s rights.
“Unfortunately, children’s issues such as child health, early childhood development, recreation and social protection are usually not top of the spending priorities of most governments. This means there is a strong case for child budget advocacy.”
Child budget advocacy refers to deliberate and strategic actions by civil society organizations (CSOS) to influence the process and outcomes of budgeting in order to make government budgets responsive to all children.
Meanwhile, Junior Legislator for Bindura North, Hon Susan Guni bemoaned the lack of collaboration between senior members of Parliament and the Junior parliament saying it was working against efforts by child parliamentarians to push for issues affecting children across the country’s 10 provinces.
“We rarely meet our seniors, the only time we meet them is at the inauguration of the Junior Parliament, after that they vanish. We have so many issues that affect us as children which include nutrition but we don’t not have the power to push that on our own in the national assembly.
“We would appreciate more, if senior parliamentarians would at least engage us at constituency level so that we air our grievances face to face,” said Guni.
However, Junior Parliamentarians were urged to join the Parliamentary Group on Nutrition, Food Security and Child Rights, and advocate for action at district and community level to reduce stunting.
A call was also made for them to advocate for sustainable education on good feeding practices, processing and preservation of food; promote use of traditional and locally available foods; and advocate for male involvement and participation in plans to improve eating practices and the nutrition in their families.