In November, WFP Zimbabwe hosted a five-day mission for Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, WFP’s Special Advisor on Mother and Child Health and Nutrition.
During her stay, the Princess visited a WFP Urban Social Assistance programme site in Sakubva, a community nutrition garden in Majerejere, and a Maternity Waiting Home (MWH) in Mount Darwin where WFP has been providing highly nutritious food assistance to expectant mothers since 2016.
To date, 1,338 expectant mothers have received nutritional support from WFP while accessing emergency obstetric and newborn care services at the home. The programme, which is implemented in partnership with UNICEF and funded by the Government of Japan, UNCERF and the Health Development Fund, seeks to increase the number of women receiving pre-and post-natal care in rural areas. Furthermore, the initiative seeks to ensure that women consume nutritious diets during pregnancy to reduce rates of maternal and neo-natal mortality.
WFP currently provides nutritional support to expectant mothers in 40 MWHs across Zimbabwe. Since the start of the programme, the number of pregnant women receiving care at these facilities has increased by 38%.
In addition to the support provided at MWHs, WFP in collaboration with UNICEF, supports the provision of malnutrition screening at food distribution points across the country. To date, more than 11,300 severely malnourished children have received lifesaving treatment as a direct result of this intervention.
Reflecting on the programme, Princess Sarah said, “As a mother, I realise the challenges mothers face and how giving your child the best start in life through adequate nutrition and diet is paramount.”
During her visit to Zimbabwe, Princess Sarah sought to raise awareness of issues fundamental to improving the nutrition of both women and children, while advocating for enhanced collaboration–including research and analysis–to identify and implement effective solutions.
WFP Zimbabwe is currently facing a pipeline break for its Stunting Prevention programme, which has been operational across the country since 2014. Due to the reprioritisation of funds necessitated by COVID-19, Stunting Prevention activities have been suspended since June.
According to the 2020 rural ZimVAC, the percentage of children consuming a minimum acceptable diet has reached a record low of 2.1%, which is a notable decline from 6.9% in 2019. Furthermore, a total of 1,452 pellagra cases were recorded between January and August, which is close to double the 840 cases reported during the same period last year.
Princess Sarah hopes to continue working with WFP to advocate for and explore different models of financing the nutrition agenda in Zimbabwe. In the context of COVID-19, investment in nutrition is critical.