Malawi Vice president Saulosi Chilima on Thursday kicked off the distribution of relief food to starving 6.5 million people hit hard by natural calamities.
Launching the much awaited relief food program in Nsanje, one of the worst hit districts where 40, 000 people have been affected, Chilima warned civil servants who will try to mess up the program through theft, that they would be arrested and fired immediately.
Chilima emotionally appealed to government officials and donors to work hard and smart, warning that the situation was a matter of life and death.
“The task before us is colossal. We must work hard and smart. We can’t afford to make a mistake. If we make a mistake, someone is going to die,” said the Vice President.
Ironically, Nsanje district also suffered the worst floods in 2015 a calamity that was followed by prolonged dry spells this year withering crops that had hoped for.
In the response plan, some families will recieve food items while in other areas beneficiaries will be given cash equivalent to the items others will be receiving.
The Vice President also took the situation to appeal to Malawians to consider opting for other foods instead of only relying on maize.
“There is climate change and maize is not resilient to bad weather so let us start changing our eating behaviour,” he said.
A team of vigilant international NGOs led by WFP are working closely with government apparently to salvage the hunger situation which threatens to be the worst in the history of Malawi.
But the Vice President Chilima was optimistic that the response will be rolled smoothly so as to live up to President Peter Mutharika’s promise that no Malawian will die of hunger.
“Just like we did in 2015, we are prepared and we have a plan that will follow. We have the trust of our donor partners so we will reach out to all the beneficiaries in good time. We will do this together, timely, and with a sense of urgency and perfection,” Chilima said.
The Malawi government needs about US$395 million to smoothly respond to the crisis but the available resources are yet hit the half mark.