The continuous dry spells the country is experiencing has led to an emergency predicament on household food security. In recent meetings, non-governmental organisations have been coming together to find solutions to mitigate the effects of the drought exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon. In light of this, Nhaka Foundation has to answer a lot of questions internally as we work towards identifying immediate solutions to the hunger faced by children and caregivers alike. The most recurring question in our team conversations has been; how do we as an organisation continue to provide access to education, food and health services for the children in light of the funding challenges faced by many organisations in the country?
According to the Lean Season Monitoring Report released in January 2016, the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) assess that the effects of the drought are far reaching and are extremely visible in the rural areas. Grain prices have gone up by 35% nationally meaning people will have to pay more for very little. Livestock prices have plummeted as farmers seek ways to get income in order to buy basic necessities for their families. Previously, cattle could be sold for at least US$380 on the market, now sales have gone down to as little as US$80, a necessary give away as farmers feel they would rather sell their cattle for very little instead of watching them starve to death (ZimVAC, January 2016, pp. 50-51).
Social behavioural change is also a result stemming from the current situation. An article published by Her Zimbabwe in September 2015 refers to the increase in child marriages being attributed to by poverty as opposed cultural reasons and makes mention of surveys conducted by UNFPA. This is further corroborated by the surveys carried out in the ZimVAC report (ZimVAC, January 2016, p. 42) which attests to an increase in child marriages as parents are marrying off their daughters as a way to firstly ensure that their child will be taken care of and secondly earn some income in order to support the remaining family. As misguided as this is, the bride price creates a source of income for the families. The same report also states; issues of gender based violence, physical or sexual are more frequent with an increasing number of reported cases of domestic violence. Suicide rates have also increased.
One of the interventions Nhaka Foundation undertakes is a primary schools feeding program. The program ensures that each child in the schools that we support goes into the classroom and has the opportunity to maximise their potential and participates in classroom activities. Teachers at the different schools we support attest to the fact that absenteeism is decreasing, participation is improving and evident health conditions that spread quickly such as skin infections have improved. In order to increase a child’s potential to succeed through ECD enrolment we address issues of child protection and other pertinent social issues through continuous engagement with parents, community leaders and other stakeholders. However, these parenting programs need to be worth their while as parents are under increased pressure to find food for their families. This is a challenge Nhaka Foundation is seeking creative solutions to address.
With the continued assistance of our donors, friends and supporters, we will continue offering support programs that continue to push our vision to create a nation with young children living a life full of possibilities even amidst the current challenges facing our nation.
Until next time,