'6 000 children drop out of school in Mat North'

HARARE - At least 6 000 children in Matabaleland North dropped out of school to work and help fend for their families due to the El Nino-induced drought that affected the 2015/16 agriculture season,  a report by non-governmental organisations revealed.

According to the report, titled ‘Regional Early-Stage Child Protection Rapid Assessment Southern Africa El Niño Emergency Response’ and compiled by Plan International, Unicef and World Vision, most children in the area cited hunger and the need to help out with house or farm work as the major reasons for quitting school.

“Following the onset of El Nino Zimbabwe has outlined some of anticipated and actual impact on child labour with the Child Protection Emergency questionnaire finding that children in child labour conditions within the community such as herding livestock, looking after people’s homesteads was rated as the highest increase for both community and district,” the report said.

Since the El Nino-induced drought began last year, an estimated three million people are in need of food aid and livelihood support.

World Food Programme country director Eddie Rowe is on record saying Zimbabwe’s food security situation looked bleak, with the figures likely to rise.

The report also indicated that daily school attendance by children living with disabilities declined as they joined their families in search of food.

Eastern and southern Africa has, according to the report, the highest child labour rates among regions in the world, with an estimated 36 percent of children aged between five and 14 years involved in child labour.

It also indicated that 61 percent of children get into domestic work, 28,92 percent into mining, 42,17 percent have sexual favours in exchange for food, 37 percent get into agricultural work involving heavy duty machinery while others get into factory work, transporting goods and other dangerous work.

According to the report, an estimated 47,74 percent of children are migrating out of communities due to the effects of El Nino.

Statistics from the report show that 55,56 percent of migration was due to drought, 70,37 percent was due to lack of food, 44,44 percent was attributed to failed crops, 40,74 percent a lack of water and 14,81 percent because of death of livestock.

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