By Michael Gwarisa
SAVE the Children United Kingdom has availed US$6 000 towards a child food and nutrition project in Zimbabwe in a bid to complement government’s budgetary allocation towards nutrition.
Speaking to HealthTimes on the sidelines of Scaling up nutrition training workshop in Harare,National Coordinator -Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (ZCSOSUNA) Kudakwashe Zombe said they were engaging child Parliamentarians inn Mashonaland Central in a bid to drive this project.
“This is a project that we want to implement in Mash Central, the reason why we are engaging these child Parliamentarians is that some of the issues which are debated in the Junior Parliament went will filtrate and be debated in the national assembly.
“We are targeting 15 child parliamentarians and we are also going to be having meetings with key decision makers in the provinces. We have targeted various groups from local government, rural local authorities and the civic society. We had initially budgeted for $10 000 for this project, we got the $10 000 and shared it with Malawi, so we got $6 000 and Malawi got $4 000.
“Malawi have experience in this area so we are more of learning from them,” said Zombe.
He added that the project would be moved to other districts once they are done with the pilot phase of the project.
In 2001, the government of Zimbabwean government pledged to allocating 15% of its national budget to the health sector by signing the Abuja declaration. Based on the 2017 National budget analysis report, this policy brief is intended to explain why the Zimbabwean government need to leverage additional domestic resources if they want to end malnutrition in all its forms. The purpose of this policy brief is to increase attention to, investment in both nutrition specific and sensitive interventions.
Child malnutrition is widespread and is limiting the future success of millions of children and their nations in third world countries. Globally under nutrition is estimated to cause 3.1 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths. Stunting (shorter than expected height) is a major health problem worldwide, affecting approximately 178 million children under the age of five with Asia and Africa worst affected. In Africa particularly sub Saharan Africa it is estimated that 40% of children are stunted, while the etiology of stunting is complex, inadequate nutrition and infections are among factors to play major roles in reducing children’s height for age. Malnutrition in all its forms remains a problem in Zimbabwe, nearly 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 years is shorter than their expected height for their age. Of the children between 6-59 months 21% suffer from shortage of vitamin A, 72% do not have adequate iron in their bodies and 32% suffer from anaemia.
This situation needs to be changed because of its consequences on the general populace and country’s growth. Lack of proper nutrition diminishes the physical and intellectual capabilities of children. It affects their levels of productivity in adulthood and can have far reaching consequences on a country’s development and economic growth.
Current spending on nutrition is proving inadequate to address the economic and human challenges of under nutrition and is insufficient to meet the ambition of both the Sustainable Development Goals and the global nutrition targets.
According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report (GNR), “Governments need to start seeing nutrition investments as a means to economic growth rather than seeing better nutrition as a result of economic growth.” The 2017 budget analysis report revealed that budget allocations for the past 3 years on health, are far less than 15% of the total budgets as recommended by the Abuja Declaration to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
It was observed that there has been inconsistency in the allocations going to MoHCC over the past 3 years. Analysis reveals that 6.57%, 8.3% and 6.9% of the nation’s budget has been allocated to the ministry in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. 2017 budget allocation was reduced by 1.4 percentage points from the 2016 estimates and it is sad to note that in 2017 approximately 80%of the allocation to MoHCC will be for staff salaries and only 20% will be for non wage expenditure including nutrition investment.