People Helped in 2017: 49,741
Since its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has experienced a tense political environment and an unstable economy. To tackle its financial challenges, the country is creating initiatives to rejuvenate the economy, including replacing the national currency with the American dollar for international trade. While the economy has improved significantly in recent years, the public health situation continues to deteriorate. High rates of malnutrition, alarming numbers of HIV and AIDS cases, and frequent cholera outbreaks are huge humanitarian challenges.
Many Zimbabweans suffer from malnutrition coupled with HIV/AIDS infections, but the country’s massively deteriorated public health system is not properly equipped to handle this double threat. Since Action Against Hunger started in Zimbabwe in 2002, we have committed to integrating HIV and AIDS education and treatment in all of the programs that we conduct. Approximately 70% of patients diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition also have HIV/AIDS, and our nutrition programs are specifically designed to treat this particularly vulnerable group.
The drought caused by El Niño in 2016-17 affected Zimbabwe, seriously harming food security, access to water and the population’s nutritional status. A state of emergency was declared in February 2016, and an estimated 2.8 million people were affected by food insecurity in the first quarter. Chronic malnutrition among children under five now stands at 32 percent. At the start of 2017, the country was affected by La Niña, resulting in flooding in some areas, a deterioration in communities’ livelihoods and destruction of their property.
In 2017, we set up integrated nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene programs to support those affected by drought following El Niño. This included access to clean water and hygiene promotion, treatment for acute malnutrition, and health worker training. A further objective was to improve the population’s food and nutrition security via distribution of food coupons and protecting their livelihoods.
In addition, our research project "Cultivate Africa", the aim of which is to reduce the contamination of corn kernels by aflatoxin as well as people’s exposure to it, highlighted improved good practice in harvest management, and the improved efficacy of hermetic technology to counter aflatoxin in maize.