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  • Writer's picturekwankew

Food Insecurity

A headline in the July 31st issue of the newspaper “The Nation” ominously announces: Food Insecurity to Rise in Malawi. The population growth in Malawi which is predicted to be at 3.3% per year over the next decade, 2013 to 2023 compared to that of the rest of the Sub-Saharan Africa of 2.8%, poses a threat to food insecurity. Indeed even now it is said that World Food Program (WFP) should be providing food for Malawians before the situation becomes worse. The three countries that are predicted to have the most significant deterioration in food insecurity are Malawi, Uganda and Chad. Other countries such as Central African Republic, DRC, Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia and Zambia are not far behind. I spoke to a native here who testified to the fact that for at least the last thirty years, he could not remember a year in which any form of food distribution was not given to Nsanje district.

I have been to Africa so many times and still cannot understand why so many of the countries in the continent are always in perpetual need of foreign aids.Relief agencies have been in Africa for years and yet poverty, hunger, famine, lack of water and sanitation, education, healthcare persist; the agencies do not seem to be able to make a dent in these confounding problems plaguing Africa despite tons of money being poured into Africa.Some Africans think aids agencies are the problem and that they trigger the cycle of dependence.However without them many of the impoverished inhabitants of countries and regions that have been forgotten by the government will be left to suffer.I remember seeing a map of the areas around Dadaab in Kenya completely taken over by different relief agencies, the government takes no interest in providing any services for the people there.A cynic would argue that the government has no reason to provide care as their own people would be taken care of by relief agencies, there lies the argument for the cycle of dependency.If on the other hand relief agencies pulled out now the whole fabric of the African society that depends on them would collapse.

An election outcome of an African nation has virtually no impact on the lives of the people in the remote areas as the leaders themselves have totally neglected them for years. Corruption may be partly to blame for the lack of progress in many of the African nations, many leaders are mainly interested in enriching themselves and their cronies and to contrive to stay in power for as long as they can to continue to benefit from their ill-gotten gains. A few years ago the Kenyan parliament voted to tax the MPs, apparently unlike the regular citizens, MPs were exempt from paying taxes and when it came close to the time when they had to pay their due, they voted against having taxes levied on them. They enjoyed a lot of perks as politicians and yet to shoulder a fair share of the tax burden was distasteful to them. Was it greed that drove them against being taxed? On my second visit to Kampala, the roads were just as bad as the first time I went there. I commented to a Ugandan that if I were the President of Uganda and had been in power for such a long time I would be ashamed of the poor conditions of the roads. His said facetiously that the president would reply that he did not have the money to improve them and would need some foreign aid. Food insecurity in Malawi has been a perpetual problem due to drought and flooding. The flat area in Nasanje is prone to flooding by the Shire River during the rainy season. I am not an engineer but I wonder why a more permanent solution has not been sought such as an irrigation system and some kind of flood control. From what I could see in the countryside, there is no large scale agriculture here and the people still stick to subsistence farming for their day-to-day survival. If their crop fails they have no other recourse but to hope for foreign food distribution. The other evening in my run I was pestered by a few kids yelling,”Muzungu. give me money!” I am not a European white but just the same I am a foreigner to them and foreigners have the money. Just about the only place I seldom hear kids asking for money was when I was deep in the bush of South Sudan. In Ethiopia the kids put out their palms asking for Birr, they thought it was hilarious when I in turn put out mine and asked them for Birr. My traveling companion yelled at them, “Yellem!” in Amharic (We have nothing). Here I said, “You have to work for it.” Later I learned a few words of Chichewa: Ndilibe ndalama (I have no money) or Maluzi (I am broke) to arm myself against such verbal assaults. That evening however I decided to sprint and left the pestering kids in the dust.

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