CSO, Child Parly Lobby For a Nutrition Sensitive 2018 National Budget

Local civil society organisations, Rural Enterprise Trust of Zimbabwe (RETZ) and the Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (ZCSOSUNA) have engaged child parliamentarians in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province in a drive to advocate for nutrition-friendly budgets in the coming 2018 National Budget formulation process.

The programme was meant to sensitize child parliamentarians and other key stakeholders about the dangers of investing and not investing in nutrition, and on how child malnutrition consume resources that could be channelled towards community development.

Malnutrition is one of the most serious health problems affecting infants, children, and women of reproductive age in Africa and little attention has been given towards allocating more financial resources in the fight against this challenge by many governments.

According to UNICEF in 2016 Zimbabwe faced the worst malnutrition rates in 15 years, as nearly 33,000 children were reportedly in urgent need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

Children are more susceptible to malnutrition and remain the most vulnerable community affected by the problem. Globally, under-nutrition is estimated to cause 3.1 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths.

Malnutrition is not only affecting the health of the nation but is also an anti-developmental vice which consumes resources which could be channelled towards community development programmes in Zimbabwe. The sensitization and engagement meeting was thus meant to raise awareness of the child parliamentarians so that they lobby together for nutrition sensitive budget in the 2018 National Budget formulation processes.

Contrary to its belief that communities have the ideas to determine their own sustainable development initiatives, RETZ has noted that most advocacy activities to promote nutrition sensitive budgets have ignored the participation of children as the most affected community group. This was the innovation behind this initiative, to award children the chance to participate in addressing issues that affect them. RETZ believes that children as citizens need to know and fully participate by raising issues that affect them, in their daily lives.

The Zimbabwe National Nutrition Strategy, 2014-2018 states that the human and economic consequences of the current micronutrient deficiencies in the country’s populace are a grave. Cognitive growth losses in children will debilitate about 900 000 of the current population of under-five resulting in future productivity deficits equivalent to USD 16 million in Gross Domestic Product.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to a number of regional and international conventions. At the regional level, Zimbabwe signed to the Abuja Declaration; the Malambo Declaration and the SADC Food and Nutrition Security Framework among many others.

At an interventional level, Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Framework (2011), World Health Alliance Commitments and the Zero Hunger Challenge; Maternity Protection (Convention 183), and the Fifty-fifth World Health Assembly resolution on the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding (GSIYCF) (2002).

Most of these commitments have been domesticated into the National Constitution; the Food and Nutrition Security Policy with its implementation strategy; the Zimbabwe Accelerated Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET); and other sectorial policies in health, agriculture, education and social protection.

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