“ I know about the hunger problem. The good thing is that the Vice President is here and he deals with such issues under the Department of Disaster and Management Affairs,” Mutharika said after Chief Malemia of Nsanje appealed for food aid.
“We are appealing to you to help us. There is no maize in depots,” Malemia appealed.
The President reassured Malawians that “nobody will die of hunger as long as I am President” and directed that the VP should treat the issue as an emergency.
He told the Vice President, who was in attendance when the President toured several key projects in the Lower Shire, to deal with the issue of hunger.
“You have heard that. Your job is to help me,” Mutharika told the VP.
It was at this point that Mutharika thanked the VP for representing him in Tanzania, Mozambique and Japan on official assignments.
“You should know that a vice president is a vice president. A vice president is not the President,” Mutharika said. In the past, Mutharika has described Chimulirenji as a man who understands the difference between vice president and deputy president. The President has also said Chimulirenji, chosen as a running mate to Mutharika in the May 21 vote, is a man of integrity and maturity.
The hunger situation in Malawi is a result of Tropical Cyclone Idai weather system since early March 2019.
The Cyclone brought death and destruction to Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, affecting nearly 3 million people and killing at least 960; making it one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere.
In Malawi, about 868,900 people have been impacted, with 59 deaths and 672 injuries recorded, according to the government. Nearly 87,000 people are still living in displacement sites.
A recent Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme (RVAA) report has sounded a warning that over a million people will face acute food shortage in the country.
RVAA issued Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) results for 2019 which show that Malawi’s case is rated under Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), which is phase 3 and is deemed as a crisis level.
The report further reveals that three districts (Balaka, Neno and Nsanje) will be hit hard by the looming hunger.
It also indicates that as of July 2019, over 670,000 people were food insecure with the three districts facing high levels of malnutrition.
Some fast facts as we will be approaching March 2020:
• 600,000 people will be food insecure in Southern Region
• 390,000 people will be food insecure in Central Region
• 140,000 people will be food insecure in Northern Region
• Karonga and Nkhata Bay at stressed point (IPC level 2)
• The country as a whole not at a critical level yet ( IPC level 1)
The report says it was apparent that malnutrition and stunted growth are serious issues that have to be dealt with in the country.