Villagers interviewed by Radio VOP claimed girl children below the age of 18 years were being married off to elderly men, mostly foreigners from neighbouring South Africa in order to get money to buy food.
“The situation is dire our children will perish if we do not get help from our government and humanitarian aid groups in the country. Peoples are using desperate means of getting grain to feed their families like trading their daughters which is so bad considering the children rights as most of these young girls will be below the age of 18,” said Thomas Chauke from Old Boli.
Health officials in Chikombedzi told VOP during a visit over the weekend that the children died of malnutrition and kwashiorkor as availability of food in the district continued to be a nightmare to the majority of villagers who had a poor harvest due to low rainfall received last agricultural season.
A senior nurse at Chikombedzi General Hospital said the children below the age of 10 were admitted after they began to show signs of malnutrition and lost their lives as the hospital was facing a severe crisis of drugs and food shortages.
“Hunger situation here is getting worse, we have lost human lives of minors over the past week due to starvation related diseases and we are likely to lose more if government does not intervene immediately,” said Alice Hlalangani nurse at the hospital.
She added that losing six children in a week was frightening.
Villagers said they were facing grain shortage to prepare the country’s staple food sadza for their families in order to survive.
Some said they were trading their cattle in exchange of some few bags of maize-meal but had since run out of livestock to give away.
Officials at the hospitals said a number of children were still admitted at the hospital and slow reaction of help could cost their lives and add to statistics of children dying of hunger.
Masvingo provincial medical director, Doctor Robert Madyiradima declined to comment on Monday stating that they were still investigating the causes of the death.