Dozens of people in Dowa have returned the relief maize they received from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) because it is rotten.
This happened in the Nachisaka Extension Planning Area (EPA) in the district and the issue has brought tension between the communities and Dodma officials.
“Even if we were experiencing hunger pangs, we were shocked to notice that the relief maize the government had given us to share in our village was discoloured and so full of bran that it clearly seemed unfit for human consumption,” said EliyaLayison on behalf of Chief Kabwabwa, in Traditional Authority (T/A) Msakambewa in the district, when The Nation visited his village yesterday to verify stories that some of the 600 50-kilogramme maize bags Dodma had distributed several days ago were not fit for human consumption.
“In this village, we were given five [50-kilogramme] bags to share among the most needy families. We promptly returned the five bags to the Nachisaka EPA, where the agriculture officials replaced the bags… and what we now have is good quality maize,” the traditional leader said.
He, however, expressed regret over reports that some people were so desperate for food that they ate the bad maize.
Chief Guwende of a neighbouring village said: “Out of 47 people in our village, only two families were registered to receive a bag of maize in my area and I decided to share the two bags to 14 people, especially the old ones who cannot work. It is sad that only two families get to receive the relief maize while so many people are going to bed on an empty stomach.”
He described the relief maize that was distributed earlier as “looking like chicken feed” that people should not eat.
When we reached the EPA, officials at the offices failed to explain why and when the maize became discoloured.
In an interview, Dodma spokesperson ChipiliroKhamula said they have launched an investigation to establish what happened. He said they are working with different stakeholders, including the Dowa District Council and the affected people, on the matter.