Reporter Lovemore Lubinda

The United Nations Children Education Fund (Unicef) said more children are dying due to environmental pollution.

Unicef’s country representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Mohamed Ayoya told gatherers at the commemoration of World Environment Day (WED) at Mukuvisi Woodlands last week that 3 million children worldwide are dying from environment related causes.

He said air pollution, contaminated water, inadequate sanitation, toxic hazards, disease vectors, ultra violet radiation and degraded ecosystems pose risks in the environment for children, and in most cases, their mothers as well.

“Children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and their exposure to environmental contaminants can cause irreversible damage to their growth and developments,” said Ayoya.

“In developing countries like Zimbabwe, environmental hazards and pollution result in acute respiratory disease, diarrhoeal diseases, physical injuries, poisonings, insect-borne disease and perinatal infections” added Ayoya.

He said unsustainable development and degraded environments compound poverty and malnutrition in children, often with fatal consequences, making ecological degradation one of the most critical factors in child mortality.

The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey of 2016 says acute respiratory infection (ARI), malaria, and dehydration caused by severe diarrhoea are major causes of child morbidity and mortality in Zimbabwe.

Intermittent water supplies, blockages to the sewerage system and a sporadic rubbish collection service have contributed to outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, which killed more than 4000, women and children included, in 2008.

The WED this year is running under the theme “Connecting People to Nature” and is celebrated on the 5th of June every year. It was established in 1972 in Stockholm Sweden by the United Nations General Assembly to observe, campaign for the encouragement of worldwide awareness and action for the environment.