The southern Africa region continues to suffer from food shortages as a result of drought and failed harvests. It’s estimated as many as 12 million people in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland are at risk of malnutrition.
Voice of America reporter Delia Robertson is in Malawi. From Blantyre, she spoke with English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the food crisis.
“In this part of the country, which is the worst affected part of the country in the south around Blantyre and further south from here, people are in severe food stress. Last year, the rains failed in February, just shortly before they would have harvested their staple crop of maize, and the crops were completely destroyed. This caused severe food stress in the population, but this time it occurred much earlier. Normally, it is this time of the year, late in the year, that people are in severe food stress,” she says. Because of the shortages, Malawians need outside help.
The VOA reporter says, “They are relying on food aid, primarily from the international donor community and the NGOs working here alongside the World Food Program. And they are providing family units that have been identified according to certain criteria with a monthly allowance of food, which is 50 kilos of maize, I believe five kilos of pulses (edible seeds), ”such as peas or other pulse items and one liter of oil. And that must last a family for a month.”
The average family consists of five people, according to UN estimates, but this does not take into account extended families caring for AIDS orphans, for example. Many families are turning to traditional food items such as tubers and termites.
Ms. Robertson also reports that the political turmoil in the country, including impeachment efforts, is believed by many to be diverting the government’s attention away from the food crisis.