The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
THE Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), through the Food and Nutrition Council (FNC), has embarked on a nationwide diet monitoring exercise that will inform interventions designed to address challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
FNC director Dr George Kembo told The Sunday Mail that while Government and its partners were already distributing food, the council wanted to help come up with targeted solutions to the latest challenges.
FNC is partnering with the already established food and nutrition security committees at national and sub-national levels. After the monitoring exercise, a report that is expected to guide food distribution would be presented to Government and its partners.
It is widely expected that food distribution in urban areas will be increased while nutrition hampers will also be introduced.
“The committees responsible for the monitoring exercise are comprised of different stakeholders, Government departments and development partners,” said Dr Kembo.
“The exercise is looking at key indicators such as food security, nutrition, water and sanitation, livestock conditions, cereal markets, among others, during this time of Covid-19. The report will be used in planning interventions and policy reviews.”
The committees were reportedly taking a multi-sectoral approach to implement both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions, thus pushing for the active participation of the communities.
“We are currently implementing what we call multi-sectoral community-based model (MCBM) for stunting reduction,” he added.
“The model is a community-centred approach that seeks to address malnutrition, especially stunting, among children under the age of five. It takes a bottom-up approach to address food and nutrition security challenges.
“It (the model) recognises the centrality of communities, households and individuals in not only understanding the challenges Zimbabwe faces in food and nutrition security, but also in finding solutions to these challenges.”
The initiative comes at a time when most households are facing food and nutrition insecurity due the Covid-19-induced national lockdown meant to enforce social distancing and mitigate the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus.
In urban centres where most livelihoods are supported by the informal sector, the situation has worsened as revenue streams have been cut.
There was still need, Dr Kembo added, to continue raising awareness on the threat posed by Covid-19.
“More importantly, there is a need to improve the general hygiene practice of our petty trade … and to decentralise the markets, and de-congest the city centre from vending activities.
“If players can trade and clean places under the supervision of the regulating authorities, I am sure we will address this challenge. We are sensitive to the challenges of ensuring food security during such times, but we insist on the relevant ministries to implement robust compliance and monitoring.”
Some communities, especially in urban areas, are struggling to get a balanced diet.