Vice President Saulos Chilima on Wednesday launched the 2017/18 Lean Season Food Insecurity Response Programme with a call for more support from donors.
Out of the $34 million needed for the programme, available funding is $8.92 million from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID) comprising $4 million through the international non-governmental Organisations (Ingo) consortium and $4.92 through the United Nations World Food Programme leaving a deficit of $26.77 million to meet the cost of the whole response plan.
Speaking during the launch in Nsanje, Chilima requested all partners wishing to assist in to always inform government, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, to make sure the response program is well coordinated.
He said: “They should also fully engage the district councils in which they are implementing the humanitarian interventions. Let me call upon all district commissioners in all the affected districts to make sure that they vigilantly monitor and coordinate the response program in their respective districts to avoid duplications.
“May I, therefore, call upon the district councils to start directing the resources they receive from different sources to interventions that will help to build resilience of the communities. Resources from the Local Development Fund, Public Works Programme, for example, can be efficiently and effectively utilised to build the resilience of the communities,” he said.
Chilima indicated that on its part, government is doing everything possible to ensure that all the affected households are assisted accordingly.
The vice president further said government will make sure that maize is available in all Admarc deports to enable those who will be receiving cash, and those who will not be targeted with the relief food assistance, to access the maize.
“May I call upon our development partners to redesign the ongoing programmes to prioritize resilience building interventions so that in the long run we can break the vicious cycle of food insecurity in the country.
“While Government will ensure that maize is available in Admarc depots, may I reiterate the appeal I made last year that we should change our dietary habits –Nsima is not the only food. Let us start eating other food items like rice, cassava, sorghum, sweet and Irish potatoes as food in their own right. We need to diversify our dietary sources,” he added.
Chilima encouraged those who are able to practice irrigation farming to continue supplementing the efforts of government in addressing the food shortage.
On the effects of fall army worms attack on crops the vice president called upon the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to help famers to contain the fall army worms and farmers to be observant and report to agriculture authorities such pests that may be observed in their gardens.
Chilima thanked Malawi’s humanitarian partners and the Peoples Republic of China for donating 3,270 metric tonnes of rice to Malawi towards assisting people who have been affected by the food shortage.
For her part, Florence Rolle, acting United Nations Resident Coordinator said it was pleasing to note that this year the number of people affected by hunger is few as compared to last year. She urged authorities to make sure that only those in need benefit from various interventions which include social cash transfer and food distribution.
“The chronic food insecurity in Malawi requires interventions beyond humanitarian food assistance.
There is need to step up interventions that will contribute to the resilience building of the affected communities to break this the vicious cycle,” she said.
Paramount chief Lundu of Nsanje called on authorities to act fast in addressing the problem of fall army worms which according to WFP affected 40 percent of maize planted in Nsanje last growing season.
About 1 043 009 people face hunger this year in 20 districts of the country including Nsanje, Phalombe, Chikwawa, Blantyre and Balaka.
The situation has been agrievated by floods, drought and fall army worms.
The lean season response will run from December 2017 to March 2018.