UN World Food Programme

Orphaned Child In Zimbabwe Smiles Again

Netsai and granddaughter Kudakwashe can now afford to smile

Copyright: WFP/Tomson Phiri

Harare – WFP is providing nutritional support to malnourished children under five years of age, to pregnant and nursing women, and to food-insecure households with chronically-ill members. This is the story of the support being given to one family in Zimbabwe.

On a good day, Netsai Madzima used to have one meal but often she would take nothing at all so the children could have enough to eat. For her, surviving on just one meal a day was tough but it was the hungry crying of her orphaned five-month old granddaughter, Kudakwashe, that troubled her the most. HIV-positive Kudakwashe was losing a lot of weight. This prompted nurses at the local clinic to refer her to WFP for assistance. Two months after enrolment, things are looking better for both Netsai and the baby.

Kudakwashe‘s mother died from an HIV related illness days after giving birth, leaving the baby in the care of her elderly mother – who already takes care of seven other orphaned children. It is easy to see why the child was christened Kudakwashe – Shona for God’s will.

“It’s just about surviving day by day,” says the 56-year old grandmother. “What can I do if that is what the Lord has chosen?”

“There are many in Netsai’s position,” says WFP Country Director Sory Ouane. “Without the means to take care of themselves, the elderly often find themselves having to fend for others in the extended family.”

Monthly household ration

Under the nutritional support programme implemented by WFP through local aid organisations and the Ministry of Health and Child Care, clients visit local clinics and hosptials for assessment. Those found to be malnourished are referred to WFP and receive Super Cereal, a nutritious fortified blend of maize meal, soya protein and micronutrients. They also get a monthly household ration of maize meal, vegetable oil and pulses. In rural areas, the actual commodities are given whilst in Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru, which have functioning markets, assistance is provided by way of vouchers. These entitle clients to rations of commodities such as oil and beans at selected supermarkets (they also get $US5 ‘cash back’).

Full treatment success

Good nutrition is essential in protecting people living with HIV. When people living with HIV are malnourished the risk of death increases significantly. Food assistance not only increases the effectiveness of anti-retroviral treatment but also helps ensure greater adherence to treatment regimens. In 2013, 99 percent of all TB clients receiving nutrition support achieved full treatment success. Some 96 percent of clients receiving a combination of anti-retroviral treatment and WFP nutritional support adhered to their treatment.