The influential Catholic church has called on the government to take action to tackle a national crisis of rising hunger and food poverty, as latest figures suggest almost half of Malawi population is unable to meet their food requirements.
In a statement issued by the Catholic bishops through their body, Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), they have urged the society to begin rising to the challenge of the “worrisome” national food crisis, saying the current food insecurity situation requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders.
“The current historic hunger threatens the life of many Malawians. Our hospitals are already reporting higher rates of malnutrition cases and the situation is feared to worsen as we approach what we normally call the lean period. The situation requires immediate and long-term solutions,” reads part of the statement signed by ECM chairperson Archbishop Thomas Msusa of the Archdiocese of Blantyre.
ECM commended President Peter Mutharika for declaring Malawi a State of National Disaster.
“To realize that 40% of the population is unable to meet their food entitlements sends shivers to us as Shepherds of God’s folks,” the Bishops said.
“We are informed that the country needs about 307.5 million U$D to support the affected population. The value in this huge figure lies in the fact that it is about life saving. The right to life is not only a constitutional right; it is the very reason we are called human beings. That which threatens human life is an enemy and as a country we recognize this enemy in our national prayer – the national anthem,” reads the statement.
The bishops have also called for “paradigm shift” and reforms in the agriculture sector.
“While we acknowledge the attributed causes of food insecurity in our country, it is high time we started thinking differently as a nation. The current hunger situation is a ‘paradox in the land of plenty.’ As we think of the humanitarian assistance, which is needed immediately, we should also take time to reflect on long term strategies to food security in Malawi,” reads the letter.
The Bishops have commended government’s efforts in developing the country’s National Resilience Plan, which is aimed at breaking the cycle of food insecurity in Malawi.
“Our plea is that we should not just have mouthful and beautiful policies that translate into nothing. Policies and strategic plans without actions are nothing. We feel, as a nation we need a complete paradigm shift in the way we do things, no more business as usual on food security issues. Food security translates into the very sanctity of life,” reads the statement in part.
They also retaluated their call that the government should consider reforming the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) in view of the recurrent food insecurity situation, of which it was partly meant to address.
“We need sustainable and innovative ways of supporting the rural farmers who are the most affected population to food insecurity despite being producers,” said the Bishops.
The statement said: “Drawing on lessons from our Development Commission – CADECOM that an integrated approach to humanitarian response, which is people-centered, would be fertile ground for medium and long term recovery strategies. “
Caling for reforms in the agriculture as the country’s economic mainstay, the ECM noted:“Agriculture infrastructure is dilapidated, water harvesting mechanism for irrigation is not prioritised, agriculture extension services delivery have gone down and food security strategies such as the Green Belt Initiative are still limping yet provides a glaring hope to food security.”
The Catholic bishops then called upon the government to be committed to food security in Malawi by enacting the Right to Food Bill.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :