Friday, February 5, 2016

Pangs of Hunger in Mwanza Central Constituency

A tropical storm hit Mwanza Centre Constituency, the border district between Malawi and Mozambique in the Southern Region, on January 8, blowing away iron sheets, sweeping away over 10 hectares of the maize crop, and leaving community members desolate.

Some of the community members are still living in tents, almost a month after the disaster.

With no food to eat, they are happy for every Good Samaritan who comes to their aid. Well, we were there six days ago, and were humbled by the thankfulness of the affected people to something as small as those five and, to others, 10 kilogramme bags of maize flour or rice.

You never know what a kilogramme can do!

Malawi is reeling under a food crisis. In September last year, President Peter Mutharika’s called for food assistance, and the United States donating $15.7 million [about 9 billion] worth of food commodities.

Mutharika sounded the SOS before his departure for the U.S. to attend the 70th United Nations General Assembly.

U.S. Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, said in a statement that the food commodities were meant for some of 2.8 million people in need of humanitarian food assistance.

“This assistance is in response to the September 21 appeal for donor support of up to US$146.4 million (K 84 billion) by the Government of Malawi following the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) findings in July 2015,” read part of the statement.

The statement added that The UN World Food Program would receive and distribute the United States food donation of 6,250 metric tonnes of beans and 2,810 metric tonnes of vitamin A & D fortified vegetable oil as part of a larger food basket designed to meet the nutritional requirements of those in need.

The food donation is expected to arrive in the country next month.

According to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, 2.8 million people face hunger in 24 districts, necessitating the need for food assistance between the months of October 2015 and March 2016. The development has been blamed on the late onset of rains, severe flooding, mid-season dry spells, and early ending of rains, reducing the country’s maize crop production by 30 percent.

Mutharika said on Monday that his administration was ready to support the 2.8 million people facing hunger and using its own resources has bought 30,000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia at the cost of K2.82 billion, and it
is in the process of buying additional 26,000 metric tons, at the value of about K3.5 billion.

Said Mutharika: “This maize will be used to stabilize the price of the commodity on the market through ADMARC across the country. The Strategic Grain Reserve currently has maize in stock and it continues to be replenished. The government is therefore; ready to roll out food relief to food insecure households during the lean period from October, 2015, to March 2016, as recommended by MVAC.”

Mutharika also said, following the MVAC food insecurity report, the government has developed the 2015/2016 Food Insecurity Response Plan which requires a total of US$146.378 million.

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