WE have moved from a stage of hunger to now starvation, Gwembe UPND member of parliament Malungo Chisangano has lamented. There have been prolonged dry spells in selected parts of Zambia, especially in Southern Province. Gwembe district lies in the eastern part of Southern Province, which is a valley. Chisangano sounded the SOS, stressing that: “There is a disaster in my constituency, in terms of hunger!”
“I came back from there last night (Tuesday night). I was in the constituency and I visited many fields and I talked to headmen. The real situation in Gwembe is that the crop in most of the fields has dried,” Chisangano said in an interview.
“This means that the hunger which is already there in Gwembe because of the poor harvest of last season…. The only hope people have now is the next farming season, if at all it will be better than this one. Otherwise, maize fields are currently dry in Gwembe district.”
She explained that she managed to lobby for some relief food from the government, through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) for her constituency but regretted that “it was sent to Gwembe very late.”
“I took a report to the DMMU in April last year when I saw that there was hunger that same year. But action was only seen this year, last month! They have only sent us 100 metric tonnes of relief maize and that relief maize is just a drop in the ocean,” Chisangano explained.
“Most of the people were only given maize in gallons. So, what I’m saying is that the relief food was far from being enough.”
She complained that her constituents were now starving.
“We have moved from a stage of hunger to now starvation. So, the government should do three things; one, they should make frequent distribution of relief food to Gwembe district, two, they should increase the quantities that they are taking there, three, if there is maize at the FRA (Food Reserve Agency), let them take that maize and sell it in Gwembe because some people would rather buy maize instead of buying mealie meal because mealie meal is very expensive,” Chisangano said.
And the lawmaker appealed to the government, through the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, to consider lifting the ban on the movement of livestock in Southern Province.
She noted that lifting the ban would help farmers sell their livestock in Lusaka or Kasumbalesa and in turn raise money to buy food.
“The other thing is this issue where they are saying there is an outbreak of [a] cattle disease (Foot and Mouth Disease) and they are restricting the movement of animals from one place to another. Now, my people in Gwembe raise income through the sale of animals,” said Chisangano.
“So, right now my people cannot sale their animals outside the district. When they sale animals, they are able to buy mealie meal or maize. But the restriction on movement of animals has worsened the hunger situation. My people transport animals for sale in Lusaka and Kasumbalesa and so, if the ban is lifted people with animals can be able to survive.”