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Epidemic Hazard - Zimbabwe

GLIDE CODE: EP-20060707-6689-ZWE
Date & Time: 2006.07.07 - 08:55:21
Area: Zimbabwe Matabeleland North, , Bulawayo ( MAP)


Thirty-three people, most of them children below the age of four, died of malnutrition-related illnesses last March alone in Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo. The deaths bring to 110 the total number of people who have died in the teeming city because of malnutrition-related diseases in just the first three months of the year - a shocking illustration of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe after six years of acute food shortages, economic and political turmoil. Seventy-seven malnutrition-related deaths were recorded in Bulawayo in the first two months of the year alone. According to the municipal health report, which was presented to the city council last week, of those who died in March, 28 were children under the age of four and while the rest were adults. Bulawayo Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, who has drawn the ire of President Robert Mugabe's government for disclosing the malnutrition-related deaths, said the increasing deaths due to mal! nutrition-caused diseases were a reflection of Zimbabwe's unrelenting economic crisis.

He said: "This is all a reflection of the economic crisis in the country …. (but) we hope that these statistics will help council improve on supplementary feeding programmes at council-run schools and clinics." Ndabeni-Ncube, who belongs to a faction of the splintered main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, is the only mayor to disclose malnutrition-related deaths but health experts and international aid agencies say there could be more such deaths going unreported in other cities including the capital Harare. Zimbabwe has faced severe food shortages since Mugabe began seizing productive farms from whites and handing them over to landless black villagers in a programme he said was meant to end a colonial land tenure system that had deprived blacks of arable land. Mugabe's cash-strapped government however failed to give the new black landowners skills training or inputs support to maintain production on former white farms, a situation that saw food p! roduction tumbling by about 60 percent to leave Zimbabwe dependent on food aid. International food aid groups estimate that at least a quarter of the southern African country's 12 million people will require food aid this year or they will starve.

Number of Deads: 33 persons
Damage level: Heavy