By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, October 07, 2016 – A health crisis continues to threaten Zimbabwean prisons after officials in Manicaland province have admitted experiencing difficulties in providing nutritious food for inmates.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) said in a statement it was struggling to feed its ballooning prison population from its own farm produce which have over the years helped supplement supplies to prisons.
This, according to the institution, has far reaching health implications that can lead to the rapid spread of tuberculosis, cholera and diarrhoea among inmates.
ZPCS attributed the failure to produce enough food to the vagaries of climate change.
“Climate Change is negatively affecting us as ZPCS in many ways; for example – the quality and quantity of farm produce has been reducing due to poor erratic rainfall, our grazing lands are depleting, leading to poor diet for inmates. Also there has been a general increase in the prison population owing to the increased criminal activities in the community,” said the ZPCS.
“Overpopulation in prisons invites challenges in administering health within our prisons, for example the spread of TB, cholera and diarrhoea will be difficult to contain.
“As ZPCS we suffered a heavy blow from climate change as we registered a number of pellagra cases.”
The institution has since introduced climate resilient crops in designated areas and partnered with various stakeholders to provide nutritious foodstuff for inmates.
“In light of this, efforts are under way to venture into fish and goat farming in an effort to explore additional climate resilience areas. We also introduced crop protein such as sugar beans and corn soya which are also nutritious and climate resilient.
“Apart from this long-term method, in the short run, we have managed to reduce cases of malnutrition in the province by working with other stakeholders to provide plumpy nuts and other medical drugs, ZPCS stated.
However, RadioVOP is reliably informed that most inmates are suffering from mal-nutrition, kwashiorkor and pellagra, which is the most common disease.
The ZPCS manages 46 prisons countrywide and of these, 24 of them are farms prisons.