from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – POOR Zimbabwean parents are forcibly marrying their children to wealthier families who have food.
This is among the extreme coping mechanisms households have reportedly adopted in the country’s worsening food crisis.
Save the Children reported that children are forced to eat only once a day while others have been taken out of school as parents cannot afford.
Other families are reducing their daily meal intake, selling off livestock and other assets and migrating often unsafely to neighbouring countries such as South Africa.
William Lynch, Save the Children’s Country Director in Zimbabwe, described the situation in the country as extremely complex.
“For girls in particular, we’re hearing that the situation is leaving them with limited options and is driving them into early marriage,” he said.
The agency warned that, without a major increase in the humanitarian response in Zimbabwe, lives will be lost as children and their families adopt more to survive.
“Zimbabweans have been pushed to their absolute limits in recent years and now they are on the brink of collapse,” Lynch said.
At least 7,7 million people, which is half of the population, are severely food insecure in rural and urban Zimbabwe.
Over 3,8 million children are affected.
Zimbabwe is facing its worst since 2008, with the highest inflation rate in the world, estimated at 300 percent.
Cash shortages, high unemployment, and persistent increases in the costs of basic goods and services, are worsening the situation.
Lynch appealed to the international community to assist.
“Governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and donors must pull together now,” he said.
– CAJ News