Malawi is lagging behind on economic, social and cultural rights, human rights activist Billy Mayaya has said.
He has since asked government to improve the situation by enacting the Right to Food Bill into law as one key solution.
Mayaya, who also noted that the country is making minimal strides on group and solidarity rights, said this yesterday in Liwonde, Machinga during a media awareness workshop on the right to food organised by the Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom).
Cadecom is implementing a project on increasing food security and resilience to climate change shocks, targeting 1 250 households in Malawi and one of the key activities of the project is to advocate for the enactment and implementation of climate resilience policies such as the Right to Food Bill.
Mayaya, however, said while Malawi has made progress on civil and political rights, the country still has a long way to go to achieve economic and social rights on one hand.
He said: “All human rights standards need to be reported at the United Nations [UN] level and we have been doing good on reporting to the UN the state of governance but not on key economic rights such as the right to food.”
Mayaya said once the Right to Food Bill is enacted, it will create space for the country to periodically report to the UN on a variety of economic rights issues.
Business News understands that the development of the bill started in 2006 but the process has been dragging over the years.
It was also learnt in Liwonde that the right to food concept came into force in 2002 as a result of government’s selling of maize from the strategic grain reserves and civil society organisations (CSOs) saw that as a violation of human rights.
But Mayaya said over the years, the formulation of the bill had taken two processes; one by the CSOs and the other by government through the Department of Nutrition, HIV and Aids.
He said the Right to Food Bill once passed into law, will also empower Malawians to embrace food diversity by not only rely on maize as the staple food.
The bill also proposes the establishment of a National Food Security Council as well as the Food Security Fund.