United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary General Kang Kyung-wha says she is impressed with various interventions currently underway in Balaka District to alleviate hunger.
She said some districts in Malawi, including Balaka, are enduring the worst drought which has left people struggling for their daily meal.
“There is hardship in the rural areas and in particular the areas we are visiting today. I am happy that the UN family has brought in different initiatives to help people in Mpamasi area,” said Kang.
She was speaking at Mpamasi Area, Traditional Authority (T/A) Kachenga in Balaka on Sunday when she visited areas which have been hard hit by dry spells and drought.
Kang said she is happy with the projects that the UN is implementing in the area such as the provision of supplements for people who are malnourished to ensure that they contribute to their communities’ development.
Apart from nutrition initiatives, Kang said there are also projects that have been earmarked for building the communities resilience and capacity to stand on their own.
“If communities are self-generating, they will be stronger when a crisis hits again. I am happy that our partners are working well with government, but these partners will also need more support so that the projects being implemented are more sustainable,” she said.
In an interview, one villager who has been hit by the drought, Lifinesi Lifa, said her family did not harvest enough to feed her family.
“I cultivate one hectare and normally I harvest about 20-25 bags of maize, but this year I have only managed to harvest two bags,” she said.
Lifa said with lack of food, children are in danger of stunted growth and that at school they are not doing well as they go there without taking a meal.
She appealed to well-wishers helping with food and cash initiatives to also think of providing them with livestock so that after rearing them, they can sale and keep some for their households.
Speaking on behalf of other UN members, Florence Rolle, a representative from Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said the district is in a crisis situation and is food insecure and the organisation devised short-term ways which can help families that were hit hard. “We have brought in short-term initiatives which we are providing food to households hit by the dry spells but also giving out cash to people,” she said.
In his remarks Balaka district commissioner Mateauma said Balaka has been affected twice with drought.
“In 2014-2015 season about 33 558 households were affected and were targeted for food distribution exercise. In 2015-2016 about 60 000 households have been affected which translate to 88 percent of the people in the district. Relief distribution for these households will start in August,” he said.