Children living in rural areas of Zimbabwe are facing widespread levels of poverty and undernutrition, the Guardian reported last week.
In fact, more than 75% of children in rural areas live in extreme poverty, according to the Guardian.
About 4.5 million children live in rural Zimbabwe, according to UNICEF, meaning that more than 3 million children are currently living in extreme poverty in these regions.
Almost half of rural children across the country don’t get enough quality food, and face extensive health threats as a result, such as stunting and wasting, according to the Guardian.
Because of this urgent threat, the World Food Program has requested an additional $239 million in emergency funding to provide affected communities with essential food.
Zimbabwe's hunger crisis has been driven by a lack of reliable rainfall over the past five seasons that has hurt crop yields, as well as a slew of economic and infrastructural problems, such as rising unemployment, prolonged power outages, and large-scale livestock losses, the UN reported late last year.
While hunger and lack of nutrition affect all demographics, children in particular are at the highest risk of adverse effects, according to UNICEF.
“UNICEF calls on the government of Zimbabwe to recognize child poverty as a national policy priority and protect children from its most devastating effects throughout its reform agenda,” Laylee Moshiri, a UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe, told the Guardian.
In addition to widespread hunger, the country has also seen a sharp rise in poverty in recent years.
The number of people living in extreme poverty rose from 4.7 million to 5.7 million people in Zimbabwe from 2018 to 2019, according to the World Bank, a rise partly driven by an increase in food prices.
Rising food costs and decreasing income has meant many families are going days without food, the World Bank notes.
Zimbabwe’s problems are part of a larger regional crisis. Around 45 million people in Southern Africa are facing food insecurity.
The region has been hit hard by droughts in recent years that are being driven, in part, by climate change.
As climate change continues to accelerate, it will lead to more — and more severe — extreme weather events such as droughts that will continue to affect food production and harm the world’s most vulnerable communities.