- According to new government reports, malnutrition rates in Malawi again are increasing, shortly after the country overcame its most serious famine in decades. The distribution of subsidised maize is now to be enhanced, and the WFP warns that Southern Africa's food crisis is far from over.
The World Food Programme (WFP) this week was alarmed by reports from Malawi, where one believed that the worst of the food crisis had already been seen. According to reports from Malawi's Nutrition Rehabilitation Units (NRU), malnutrition rates are now again increasing, most notably in the central region.
NRU reports had shown an increase of 69 percent in the number of October admissions of severe malnutrition cases. In the same period, Lilongwe District admissions increased by 100 percent. Most admissions have been attributed to Kwashiorkor and food security and nutrition in the area is closely being monitored, WFP reports today. The Northern and Southern Regions of Malawi are currently stable.
Due to the registered increased rate of malnutrition, focus in Malawi is again on the distribution of subsidised maize, which might have been downscaled too fast. Members of Malawi's Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture have now urged the government to enhance its action.
The parliamentary committee is now monitoring the activities of farmers in rural areas and have instructed the National Food Reserve Agency and the Agriculture Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC) to dispatch enough maize to ADMARC depots in order to ensure that people have access to maize.
This move comes amidst reports from some areas that there are inadequate stocks of maize for sale in ADMARC depots, resulting in people queuing up for long hours in order to purchase grain, according to reports from WFP in Malawi.
The parliamentary committee has also reported that about 42 percent of the areas under Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (ADD) do not have an adequate amount of food. The situation is anticipated to worsen if ADMARC and NFRA do not transport enough maize to these areas before the rainy season, as most of these areas become inaccessible during that time.
The backlash in food security in Malawi comes as a reminder that the 2002-03 food crisis in Southern Africa is far from over although reports in the media are getting more seldom. The lessened media focus on Southern Africa - contrary to Iraq and Afghanistan - also has led to problems for WFP, which fears there will be disruptions in its food distribution in early 2004.
Commodity requirements for WFP in Southern Africa are at their peak early next year. However, "as of 27 November, projections indicate acute cereal shortfalls beginning in February, and continuing through March and April."
WFP is expecting to assist in food distribution for approximately 6.5 million people in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho and Madagascar during the next months. The most critical months are set to be those before the regional April-May harvest.
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