Gwembe UPND member of parliament Malungo Chisangano has lamented that her constituency has been hit with one of the worst hunger situations.
And Chisangano says a pregnant Gwembe woman died after eating poisonous cassava.
Speaking at the launch of Hivos’ “Beyond Maize Report” at Chamba Valley Executive Hotel in Lusaka, Wednesday, an emotional Chisangano said the people of Gwembe were vulnerable to starvation as there was 100 per cent crop failure due to the drought which hit most of the southern and western parts of the country.
“Actually, last week I was in Gwembe in the constituency visiting families. What I saw, my brothers and sisters, was very very pathetic! Of course we have been reporting to the government so that they can assist because there is nothing that these families can do. They didn’t grow anything, there was just 100 per cent total crop failure. People didn’t grow anything so they are all vulnerable, most of them, we can’t say just a few that are vulnerable, most of them are very very vulnerable. I can say all of them maybe except for those civil servants that are working,” Chisangano lamented.
She said distribution of relief food was not sufficient to satisfy the Gwembe population which stands at about 54,000 people.
“The hunger situation is bad. We received our first relief food in February which was just about 100 metric tonnes of maize translated to 2,000 bags of 50 kg bags but when you look at the population of Gwembe constituency which is above 54,000, how can you definitely share the 2,000 bags of maize that we received? Although we were assured that the relief food would be given on a monthly basis, the first one came in February then the next one came end of June and then the supply actually reduced because we just received about 56 metric tonnes of 12.5 kg of maize,” she said.
“So we just received 4,408 those 12.5 kg bags. You can see from 100 to 56 and then now we have been told we have received 8,000, 12.5 kg [bags] of maize but when we were in Parliament, we were told that Gwembe is going to be given 200 metric tonnes just like they have started giving in Eastern Province but already you can see that we are no where near the 200 metric tonnes of maize.”
And Chisagano revealed that one pregnant woman died after eating poisonous cassava.
“So as I went round visiting my constituency last week and the situation was very bad, families were telling me that they even spend three, four days without eating, you look at the health of the children, most of the children are in a very bad state. I dropped tears when I was in a community called Mapenzi, I saw a baby who looked like it was four months old but when you look at that baby, that baby was really very small, very very small, then I went further I found a woman, an old woman who stopped me and said ‘madam’…..she even showed me her tummy it was flat like that of snake she told me she hadn’t eaten for two, three, four days,” lamented Chisagano.
“So what I did, because I usually carry some mealie meal to my meetings in the community, I just said no! ‘Let us leave this bag of maize for this woman I know it is just temporal way of helping somebody. Then I went further, I found a funeral, at that funeral, I was told that a pregnant woman died and that the pregnant woman ate poisonous cassava and that’s how she died. The situation is very bad as we are receiving this consignment which has just come in, 8,000 bags of 12.5kg bag of maize, I don’t know how far it will go because the history that we have had, those bags are too few, the population is very big, vulnerable people are many, they end up sharing the relief bags of mealie meal using cups where it will go for a family of two, five even one person a cup, a cup full of maize as a contribution as an allocation of that household it won’t go anywhere . So just know the people of Gwembe are starving.”