As far as the pain and suffering of hunger is concerned, push has come to a shove in Dedza where over 40 300 people have no maize and have resorted to eating porridge from banana suckers for survival.
Dedza district commissioner Emmanuel Bulukutu confirmed the situation, saying this was caused by a low production of maize and a miscalculation by some people who sold their food to buy other necessities.
During a media tour of parts of Dedza north on Friday, the media witnessed desperation and panicking among the needy under senior traditional leaders Nkokoko, Tambala and Kaphuka.
Most of the people forego breakfast and lunch, making supper their only meal per day.
The meal is made from banana suckers and cassava tubers.
In Nkokoko Village, Ireen Sitanisitasi, 45, said her family has been experiencing hunger pangs since the little food she harvested last crop season ran out three months ago.
A widow, who openly says she is HIV-positive and her husband died five years ago leaving her to look after five children, she said her family has relied more on the banana tubers, called mpama, because the banana fields are more common than the cassava ones.
Sitanisitasi said: “As a person who depends on the little-paying and hard-to-find piecework, I am often without money. So, as I wake up every morning, I think about what to feed my children because I have no food.”
Senior Chief Tambala expressed worry over the situation, saying some people are malnourished and may soon develop serious health complications.
He said the government should come to their rescue as the relief food that government is providing is not enough compared to the population of the affected people.
“I urge the government and other well-wishers to come and help us with enough food because even if the people can go to Admarc to buy food, they find that there is no maize and they come back empty-handed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dedza North legislator Savel Kafwafwa said up to 576 villages are affected by hunger in what is one of the remotest areas in the country.
Department of Disaster Management and Affairs (Dodma) spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said government is aware of the problems and is providing the affected people.