MARCH – OCTOBER 2019 – FOOD CRISIS
Southern and Western Provinces of Zambia is suffering from a severe drought, virtually no rain has fallen during this season. I saw the devastating effect taking place in the Southern Province in March – rivers and streams are dry and crops have perished. By October I saw signs of hunger in every area where we work. No rain is expected until November/December. Many people in rural areas are eating only one meal a day, others relying on neighbours to share their food, some eating only wild food and wild roots.
FOOD SHORTAGES ARE APPARENT IN RURAL AREAS THROUGHOUT SOUTHERN PROVINCE
To date we have distributed several thousands of bags of maize to remote communities and schools. We are continuing to raise funds to purchase bags of maize and distributing them daily to orphans, vulnerable children and the elderly, the first distribution took place during Easter weekend. We have spread our reach to Nyawa, Sekute and Mukuni Chiefdoms. Further support is needed to reach other regisons – a bag of maize now costs just £9 and will feed a family of four for a month.
ELDERLY WIDOW LOOKING AFTER ORPHANS – MUKUNI VILLAGE
Zambia ranks third hungriest Nation
Numerous challenges burden the country, including high rates of malnutrition, poverty, food insecurity, HIV and AIDS and malaria. While Zambia has reduced the rate of extreme poverty in some areas, extreme poverty continues to be much higher in rural areas (57 percent) compared to urban areas (13 percent ). Zambia’s food security challenges are worsened by a high dependence on rain-fed agriculture. This is attributed to localized poor crop production due to poor weather conditions in some parts of the country.
The stable diet for Zambians is maize, which is heavily dependent on rain. The rainy season in Zambia runs between November and April, seeds are planted in November. Too much rain and the seeds rot, insufficient rain results in poor crops.
Children living in remote villages have to walk long distances to get to school, often without having eaten breakfast, for many hunger is normal. Poor diet and insufficient food effects their concentration and stamina. The Butterfly Tree provides a daily nutritional meal for vulnerable and orphaned children in Mukuni Village and initiates sustainable feeding programs in many other schools. A balanced diet of n’shima (maize), beans, vegetables and kapenta (dried fish) will sustain the children, particularly those who live so far from the school.
Sixteen schools annually receive seeds and fertilizer to enable them to grow their own produce. Maize is dried and stored for the long ‘dry’ season, vegetables and beans are grown using the bore hole water we have provided for drinking and irrigation.
Sadly 2014-15 saw a poor rainy season and alarmingly 2015-16 is following in the same path. Areas drought and unseasonably high temperatures are being reported in the Southern Province. Last year most maize crops in the Southern Province perished as the crops are rain dependent. We have encouraged schools to grow sorghum, which is less rain dependent as well as more vegetables. Water from bore holes can be used to irrigate school gardens, especially when the river and streams run dry. Our aim is continue to raise funds to enable more schools to initiate sustainable feeding programmes.