Factors driving Zimbabwe's high poverty rate include the country's large population of children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said a spokeswoman for the United Nations Children's Fund on Monday following last week's release of a report showing 78 percent of the population impoverished and much of it hungry.
UNICEF released alarming data showing 78 percent of Zimbabweans living in “absolute poverty." The agency said more than half Zimbabwe's estimated 13.5 million people live under the food poverty line with some 3.5 million children chronically going hungry.
The report said a burgeoning HIV/Aids pandemic has killed many breadwinners, leaving a large numbers of families headed by children and 55 per cent of the population living below the food poverty line meaning they are unable to meet their most basic needs.
For a closer look at poverty in the country, VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira turned to UNICEF Zimbabwe spokeswoman Tsitsi Singizi and Christian Care National Director Forbes Matonga.
Singizi said food availability has improved since the country's unity government was launched in February 2009 – but poverty remains widespread.
"Our research shows that one in four children in Zimbabwe is orphaned by HIV/Aids related deaths and vulnerable," Singizi said. Beyond their inability to meet material needs, many orphans and vulnerable children are exposed to exploitation and forms of abuse.