International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) secretary general Elhadj As Sy has said the Malawi hunger situation is dire and asked citizens to diversify their eating habits.
Geneva-based Sy, has been in the country to appreciate the food insecurity situation with the aim of launching a food security emergency appeal.
Addressing a news conference after touring different parts of the country, Sy said the El Niño induced drought situation in the country is worse than earlier thought.
“Malawi hunger situation is dire,” said Sy before departure to Zimbabwe on a similar mission.
The Red Cross head said he observed firsthand the desperation in some of the areas he visited
He said the situation calls for an increased and continued humanitarian assistance.
Sy asked Malawians to diversify their eating habits.
“Let me call upon Malawians to change their eating habits than just relying on maize (nsima) as food,”he said.
But James Lupale from Phalombe said the thought of going without Nsima for a day, is almost unthinkable.
“I eat Nsima for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said, a little bemused. “If I don’t eat Nsima, I feel like I haven’t eaten. What else can I eat?”
President Peter Mutharika in February this year declared Malawi a state of disaster as well.
World Food Product (WFP) says although climate models suggest El Nino – a warming of sea- surface temperatures in the Pacific would fade by June, its impact would be felt for up to two years.
El Nino has historically always been followed by a strong La Nina.
CISANET executive director, Tamani Nkhono Mvula concurred with Sy saying in the event where maize is in short supply, the only best way forward is food diversification.
“Food diversity is very difficult in Malawi because it needs more mind set change, we cannot just workup at night and start telling Malawians don’t rely on nsima their is a need for systematic approach,” said Nkhono-Mvula.
Associate Professor Alexander Phiri from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural resources is encouraging Malawians to engage themselves in small scale irrigation.
“Its not good just to wait from Government we need to do something as citizens by among others engaging in small scale irrigation,”
Malawi is experiencing hunger following prolonged dry spells during the 2015/2016 growing season.
According to Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, government needs at least K258 billion to implement short and medium-term strategies to address hunger and food insecurity which will affect millions of Malawians this year.
So far, the government of the United States of America has provided Malawi Government with $55 million (about K38.5 billion).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :