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Hunger stricken communities opt for a bitter ‘saviour’, As CDEDI tells govt to leave politics aside and come up with measures

By Iommie Chiwalo

Namiwa interacting with one of the hunger stricken communities

Some chose to close their ears to the cry of communities who are suffering from chronic food shortages feeling is a ploy to demean the Lazarus Chakwera administration but the situation on the ground is really pathetic as people have resolved to eat bitter tubers and raw pawpaws.

The route of it all, at least from what this publication has established, is not laziness but indecisiveness of current leadership that delayed distribution of affordable fertilizers as well as in discriminative results of cyclone Freddy.

In an interview with the affected an 80 years old Mary Manolo said the current levels of hunger has never been experienced before and 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.

Almost all the members of the community in the area of Sub Traditional Authority Nyambaro in Phalombe District have the same story to tell on the worsening situation of hunger.

For instance another woman 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 pleads for urgent assistance saying doing so will help lessen the visible effects of hunger that are trickling to development progress.

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.

About 386 households are hunger stricken in Chitimbe Village and are desperately in need of capital to start up small businesses.

The people are also pleading with government to come up with proper response that will see them relocating to upland since where there are staying, by law, is declared inhabitable.

A visit to Nanchidwa cyclone Freddy survivors camp also revealed heartbreaking experiences that apart from hunger, corruption and segregation among authorities was exposed.

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 and the counter is fast approaching to another rainy season 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. Then what will happen in the next few couple of weeks when the rain starts? This means 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, habitat for humanity promised to construct 13 dwelling units but the criteria for coming up with such a number is also suspicious saying 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) 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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