Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi has said government may not provide relief maize to refugees at Dzaleka Refugee Camp as it needs to prioritise Malawians first.
In an interview after he opened the 2018/19 Lean Season Food Insecurity Response Programme (2018/19 LS-Firp) coordinating meeting at Mponela in Dowa, Dausi said there are many Malawians who need relief maize.
“Malawi has 3.3 million vulnerable people. We had a hailstorm that affected the whole country, so it may not be feasible for us to serve the refugee camp first. We are making sure that no Malawian is suffering because there is no food,” he said.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) and humanitarian partners developed the 2018/19LS-Firp to guide relief assistance provision following a report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) that over 3.3 million (661 281 households) will be food insecure during 2018/19 lean season.
Government committed over 138 000 tonnes of maize worth over K20.8 billion to the programme, including K3.5 billion for logistical and operational costs.
Currently, 2.8 million people have received 47 474 tonnes of relief maize and the minister has urged those responsible for maize distribution to avoid politicising the exercise.
Said Dausi: “We know that we are in an election year and people might take advantage of that. I have advised the DCs to distribute the relief items without politicising them and give people maize that is not rotten.”
Mchinji district commissioner (DC) Rosemary Nawasha said her district was worst-hit with storms which destroyed a number of houses and foodstuffs in the area of Traditional Authority Mkanda.
“We are happy that we received the relief items from government. This meeting will help us to overcome challenges as we will be learning from others what to do to manage some really difficult situations whenever we are distributing the items,” she said.
World Food Programme (WFP) head of programmes Bernard Owadi pledged his organisation’s continued support on alternative foods to maize in selected districts.
A 2015 Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) estimated floods damages and losses across different sectors at $335 million (about K246 billion) while the cost of recovery and reconstruction requirements were estimated at $494 million (about K363 billion).
A World Bank Economic Vulnerability and Disaster Risk Assessment report states that Malawi has traditionally been vulnerable to natural disasters because of its unique geoclimatic conditions.