GWERU – A Zimbabwean lawmaker has expressed fear that a number of children in his rural constituency may be forced to drop out of school, due to drought-induced hunger that has ravaged the area.
Mthokozisi Manoki Mpofu, Member of Parliament for Silobela, a drought-prone rural district in Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province, feared most children would stay at home when Zimbabwean schools open for the second term next week. He feared the situation could be exacerbated by inexistence of intervention members.
The situation is so critical that villagers now have to travel for long distances to get water, as boreholes have dried up. Medium-poor families have been forced to forego to reduce their daily meals to one, while the poorest ones have resorted to easting wild fruits and vegetables for survival. Women and children are the hardest hit.
“The situation is so bad that there is need for serious and urgent intervention,” said Mr Mpofu recently, as he attributed the dire situation to crop failure caused by drought.
“About 80% of the crop is now a total write off. We urgently need food support not only for school children, but their parents as well. The ongoing social welfare program is not adequate to feed the growingly food insecure community. Some learners might not reopen schools while those who will be lucky to go back to school might drop out because of hunger. There is need for a speedy intervention in most wards in my area.”
A local councillor Willard Moyo buttressed Mpofu’s statements.
“It’s a pathetic situation as there is no food at all following the drying up of all crops,” said Mr Moyo.
“People are now forgoing solid meals and surviving on vegetables. Villagers are getting maize from the social welfare but it is inadequate that out of 900 vulnerable families in my ward only 300 are benefitting. People are now surviving on wild fruits and one meal a day. It’s a very serious situation some school children have dropped out of school.”
The councillor said women were the worst affected as they had to contend with food shortages and travel long distances to secure water. Only a few boreholes are still operational.
Mpofu added said the debilitating drought affecting Midlands’s rural areas had turned wild animals into a menace in his area, roaming the villages in search of food, as the forests were not yielding due to poor rainfall.