CHIEF Sipatunyana of the Tonga speaking people of Kalomo district has called upon government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) to send relief food to the area as most people had run out of food due to poor yields recorded last farming season.
The traditional leader said yesterday that while some of his subjects managed to harvest enough maize that would see them up to the beginning of the rain season, most of them did not harvest anything and were in dire need of help from government.
He said only part of his chiefdom had been earmarked for relief in phase one of DMMU’s relief food distribution but observed that even then some of the areas had not received any food and wondered when the DMMU would carry out its mandate.
He explained that after the districts which were earmarked for relief aid were named, he had a meeting with President Edgar Lungu where he asked him to extend the food distribution to the entire district as opposed to limiting itself to the areas considered by the DMMU as the situation was almost the same.
He said that the Head of State had committed himself to ensuring that all the affected area were provided with relief food but that so far, nothing had happened and that no update had been made with regard to when the DMMU would start distributing the food in the area.
“The drought in the previous rain season did not spare any part of the district. Yes, some farmers were able to get enough food to last until the first rains for this coming season but even these will need food cushioning between the onset of the season and harvest.
“However, the rest of my chiefdom did not record any harvest. Some farmers didn’t even manage to taste a green cob of maize and that is why I am calling for more food from government because there is nothing else we can do as the entire chiefdom is hit by food shortage,” Chief Sipatunyana said. He explained that the matter needed urgent attention as people’s lives were at stake.
“Government should not wait until we all die of hunger because the situation on the ground is really bad; people don’t have food and they have nowhere else to run to apart from appealing to Government for help.
We are hopeful that Government will not neglect us because if nothing is done, we will be in serious problems,” he said.
According to the 2015 in-depth Vulnerability and Needs Assessment Report, more than 430,997 households have been affected by the prolonged dry spells experienced during the 2014/2015 rainy season.
The prolonged dry spells affected household food production which ultimately affected food security especially as households move towards the lean period with about 31 districts in six provinces requiring food assistance.
DMMU is a special unit under the Office of the Vice-President whose vision is to provide a safety net for protection of the citizenry and their assets and the environment against disasters through a pro-active, community-based, developmental and multi-sectoral approach that combines disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation and integrates disaster management into national development.