About 1,151,047 people affected by hunger have been reached with food so far in the ongoing food distribution exercise currently underway in three districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa and Balaka, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has said.
The food distribution exercise which is being spearheaded by the World Food Programme (WFP) and other International Non Governmental Organisations (INGO) was launched in Nsanje about two months ago by Vice president Saulos Chilima.
Aside from the food, World Food Programme (WFP) has disbursed cash to about 74, 848 beneficiaries while the INGO have reached to 78, 732 beneficiaries.
Dodma Communications Officer Jeremiah Mphande said all the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) targeted beneficiaries for July in Nsanje have been given food aid.
Mphande said in July, about 223,358 people in Nsanje were assisted with food from WFP and 12,670 with cash from International Non Governmental Organisation (INGO) and in August they targeted over 1,068,959 beneficiaries in the three districts.
“Currently Dodma is also distributing Chinese rice in 14 districts of Mulanje, Thyolo, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mangochi, Machinga, Phalombe, Dedza, Ntcheu, Mwanza, Neno, Dowa, Mchinji, Kasungu and Salima ,”said Mphande adding that under the Strategic Grain Reserve, the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has set aside 2000 metric tonnes for the department to distribute to the affected households.
The total budget for the 2016/2017 Food Insecurity Response Plan which is targeting to reach out to about 6.5 million people in 24 districts of the country is US$395.13 million.
According to Mphande, the response will last nine months and out of the $395.13 million, (about K288.3 billion) $307.5 million (about K224.8 billion) is for assisting the affected people with relief food and $87.63 (about K64.2 billion) is for cash fund.
“Available funding is US$ 116 million (about 84.6 billion), out of which US$ 50 million (about K36.5 billion) has been contributed by Government,” he added.
District Commissioner (DC) for Chikwawa Bester Mandere said a total of 81017 households have benefited from the exercise in the month of August.
“67409 received food relief while 13 608 were given cash. So far 2217 metric tonnes of maize have been distributed and cash amounting to K146678 has been given out,” he said.
Mandere however expressed disappointment with behaviour by some chiefs in the district who are taking advantage of the poor by putting their names and those of members of their families on the list of beneficiaries.
“So far I have received three complaints but I know much is happening on the background. It’s just that people do not report these issues as they are threatened that if they do so they will be expelled from the village, which is misleading because a chief has no mandate to do that,” said Mandere.
He has since urged those affected to come forward and report to authorities so that perpetrator should be brought to book and reserve necessary punishment.
Commenting on the matter, DC for Balaka Rodrick Mateauma said all the 60717 households that were targeted to benefit in the exercise were reached out in the month of August and they have since rolled out the September exercise.
He dismissed reports that some people were creating dubious villages to benefit from the exercise.
“We are working with village civil protecting committees who are well aware of the criteria put in place in identifying beneficiaries,” Mateauma.
According to Dodma, this month the exercise will commence in Neno, Ntcheu and Salima. A total 1,577,334 people are expected to be reached with food while cash beneficiaries to be reached in the same districts will be 81,198 for WFP and 66, 062 for INGO.
The MVAC assessment which was conducted in all districts of the country expect Likoma in October last year, predicted that this year Malawi will see the worst food shortage in 8 years.
Of the 6.5 million vulnerable people, WFP is targeting 5.85 million with 4.76 million beneficiaries which represents 81percent receiving in kind food and 109 million beneficiaries representing 19 percent taking home cash.
The INGO is supporting the affected with cash and each beneficiary will get K12,700. The food rations comprise 25kg maize, five kg pulses and three kg soya and cooking oil. While expectant and breastfeeding mothers are also receiving Likuni Phala.