Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) acting executive director Juliet Ilunga says lack of adequate and timely updates from the Office of the Vice-President is perpetrating uncertainty as to whether the hunger being experienced in some parts of the country is an emergency, disaster or a crisis.
In a statement, Wednesday, Ilunga stated that in any hunger crisis, citizens and stakeholders had the right to know what progress was being made in areas which remained the most vulnerable to famine.
“CSPR is concerned with the contrasting positions taken by different stakeholders, government, Civil Society and Cooperating Partners working on food security regarding the state of the Hunger situation in the country. We further observe that the debate as to whether the hunger situation is a crisis, famine or emergence, or even a disaster, is due to the lack of adequate, timely and open information or updates from the Office of the Vice President,” Ilunga stated.
“In any hunger crisis, citizens and other stakeholders have the right to know what progress is being made in terms of areas where mitigation has been successful, but also which areas remain the most vulnerable to famine and what are some of the challenges affecting the efficient distribution of relief food. With such information, citizens will appreciate efforts being put in place to address the hunger situation,”
Ilunga recommended that government must consider re-mapping and prioritizing the most adversely affected areas in Southern and Western provinces, targeting the communities that had deteriorated into famine hotspots.
“To mitigate and increase the impact of current efforts, CSPR therefore recommends that government must; Consider re-mapping and prioritizing the most adversely affected areas in Southern and Western Provinces targeting those communities that have deteriorated into famine hotspots in order for the relief food distribution to be effective and responsive. Government should distribute the relief maize in large quantities to avoid situations where families share one bag of Mealie-meal among themselves. It is unfortunate that in a country that is food secure, families in Singani Ward of Choma, Southern Province have to share 1 by 12.5 KG bag of Mealie-meal among 3 families,” Ilunga stated.
“It should also Invite more partners such as civil society organizations and churches in the distribution of relief food and also resource mobilization so as to raise enough resources to avert the possibility of the hunger situation extending into 2020.In the long term, at policy level, the government must improve financing towards early warning systems for farmers and further increase investments towards crop diversification so as to reduce dependence on 1 crop which is vulnerable to adverse climate change.”
Ilunga also called on members of the public and stakeholders to help affected communities in any way they could.
“CSPR further invites all every able Zambian and concerned stakeholders to help affected communities in any way that they can, by sharing information on the most affected areas, fundraising for relief food, water and other amenities. The hunger situation in the country needs a humanitarian response from everyone. We should all join hands to ensure that relief food reaches the affected communities in real time and no life is lost as a result of hunger” stated Ilunga.