Hunger stricken communities surviving on tubers

Hunger stricken communities surviving on tubers
Hunger stricken communities surviving on tubers

Africa-Press – Malawi. In communities which have been hit by food shortage in Phalombe, people say they are surviving on bitter tubers and unripe mangoes and pawpaws. About 386 households are hunger stricken in Chitimbe Village in Phalombe and are desperately in need of assistance.

The people are also pleading with government to come up with proper response that will see them relocating to upland since where they are staying, by law, is declared inhabitable. In an interview 80-year-old Mary Manolo said hunger has hit hard and the situation needs urgent attention.

“This is the time to demonstrate leadership because the tubers that we are surviving on are being taken from the mountain which is kilometers away and the cooking process itself is cumbersome that cannot be endured by the hunger stricken communities let alone the elderly like us,” she said.

Many members of the community in the area of Sub Traditional Authority Nyambaro in Phalombe District have a similar story to tell on the worsening situation of hunger.

Beatrice Lomoliwa, 45, said that government should not hesitate to hear the cry of the people because the situation is bad than what has been published.

She said out there the impression is that government has started distributing maize in Admarc markets but in actual sense not all such selling points have the stock.

“Even when the maize can be available at the market, how can we buy when we lost everything to Cyclone Freddy and since then there has not been any programme from government and its stakeholders to give tangible and sustainable solutions to us,” she said.

On her part, Village Headwoman Chitimbe pleaded for urgent assistance saying doing so will help lessen the visible effects of hunger. She said if government wants a substantial contribution from the affected families, it should come up with something to empower the communities who lost everything to Cyclone Freddy and are finding it tough to recover.

A visit to Nanchidwa cyclone Freddy survivors camp also revealed heartbreaking experiences. Leader at the camp Dick Austin revealed that months are going without a sustainable solution apart from lip service from the humanitarian service providers.

He said the camp overseeing committee suspects foul play among authorities who came to the area with trucks full of 750 bags of cement promising to construct permanent shelters for the affected families but few months down the line, another rainy season is fast approaching but nothing is happening. He said the committee has tried to follow up with authorities but nothing tangible is forthcoming.

“Our worry is that we are not being helped when the roads are currently passable. What will happen in the next few couple of weeks when the rain starts? This means we will remain isolated and even left to die because here there is no any economic activity taking place to sustain our lives,” he said.

Another woman at the camp, Mary Lefunati,lamented that the impression given by government and concerned humanitarian service providers is as if people reached that extent at will forgetting the situation was worsened by the natural calamity.

She said people are struggling at the camp as the tents they are living in behave according to the weather pattern. “People suffering from different diseases are struggling because when it is hot, the tent also becomes hotter and when is cold, the tents also becomes colder. This is why we want government to come to our attention,” she said.

She disclosed that among the 96 affected families, 13 were selected to benefit from a program under which houses will be constructed but the criteria for coming up with such a number is also suspicious since there is none who is better than the other at the camp.

The initiative by former presidents currently underway in some areas to construct houses for cyclone Freddy survivors also hit blanks as there is nothing happening on the ground despite being registered for the same.

Meanwhile, human rights activist Sylvester Namiwa who is also the Executive Director for Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has said this is time to leave politics aside and come up with measures based on humanitarian values.

Namiwa suggests construction of houses, distribution of food as well as sustainable development programmes that will pull up the affected families from the strings of poverty.

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