ZONDIWE MBEWE, Lusaka
DISASTER Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national co-ordinator Patrick Kangwa says the unit is carrying out investigations on why demand for relief food has significantly gone up despite having released enough supplies to the affected areas.
Mr Kangwa said in an interview that the DMMU has asked district commissioners in all affected areas to monitor causes of the sudden increased demand for relief food, including mealie meal and maize.
He said they would like to establish if relief food was being sold or if the population in hunger-prone areas has drastically gone up in the last one year.
Mr Kangwa said similar amounts of relief food have been dispatched to some districts in the previous years and was sufficient to meet the needs of people, but this time demand has gone up.
â€œDistrict commissioners must report to us the changes in their areas which have led to the increased demand for relief food. We want to know whether new people have come in [communities] or if the maize is going elsewhere,â€ he said.
Mr Kangwa said the unit has been providing relief food to the 31 hunger prone districts which were adversely affected by the 2014/2015 rainfall pattern, and will continue to do so until next month.
He said some of these districts are still affected by hunger because they have not yet harvested their crops, and indications are that the yields may be poor in certain areas this year due to drought.
Mr Kangwa said district commissioners will need to be proactive in reporting to the DMMU the food situations in their localities so that needy people are attended to.
He also pointed out that Kazungula and Solwezi districts experienced floods this rainy season and the DMMU responded by providing shelter and food.
â€œDMMU provided relief food and shelter to the 315 homes that were stranded after the floods in Kazungula district, and we also did the same in Solwezi,â€ he said.
And Mr Kangwa also explained that maize production is relatively low in Southern Province due to poor rains, therefore some farmers are more comfortable with livestock production.
He said this is the reason why some areas usually suffer food shortages, adding that the DMMU is however doing its best to provide relief food to the affected areas.
ZONDIWE MBEWE, Lusaka