THE intention of relief food is to ensure that foodstuff items are available for delivery to individuals and families in need on time.
Food aid given either as actual food items or as cash to buy food, can play a vital part in dipping hunger.
The idea of providing emergency food aid by the Zambian government is in essence to save lives when natural disasters intimidate people’s access to food.
Nobody can deny that Government has a commitment to ensure that all people have access to sufficient food.
This is because the human right to food is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC).
However it appears that our food aid system is crippled with glitches as reports of people crying for relief food are certainly on the rise countrywide and should be a source of disquiet.
We also think that food aid if not controlled correctly can also undercut local agricultural output in those affected areas and threaten longstanding food security.
It would in the same way appear that delivery of relief food in Zambia is commonly sluggish hence the continuing reports of people resorting to eating wild fruits and roots for their survival which should not be the case at all.
So the reports coming from Gwembe today where people are now eating wild roots locally known as mashebe and matando following the fish ban imposed on Lake Kariba by Government are extremely nerve-wracking and need exigent responsiveness.
According to the Sun, villagers in Gwembe are surviving on wild roots locally known as Mashebe and Matando following the fish ban imposed on Lake Kariba by Government.
Gwembe district council chairman Paul Chilala said that the area has consequently recorded low school attendance because most pupils were unable to report for classes due to the severe hunger situation in the area.
He called for the immediate lifting of the fish ban to enable the locals survive, adding that any prolonged ban may result in serious starvation.
“The hunger situation is so severe that if the fishing ban won’t be lifted, it may result in starvation and death, so I’m appealing in Government to immediately lift the ban to save the people in the area,” he said.
The Ministry of livestock and fisheries has imposed a ban on all fishing activities on the lake to take stock of the number of rigs following the depletion of fish on Africa’s largest man-made fresh water reservoir.
A check by the Sun in Chief Chipepo’s Koma, Sipuwa, Kole and Chilamba villages found people collecting wild fruits and roots from the bush which they later grinded and boiled to eat as food.
One of the villagers Lloyd Siamwela told the Sun said that while Government, the Catholic Church and World vision Zambia were providing some relief food in the area, some villagers were still going to bed on empty stomachs because the provided food was not enough.
He said the fish ban had resulted in misery and destitution among the people in the area and called on Government to rescind the decision before people starved to death.
“We can hardly survive after the ban, at least we used to fish and sell but now with the current ban we are suffering and dying and wish Government can rescind the decision because it does not make sense,” Mr Siamwela said.
Gwembe is certainly one of the areas currently in need of relief food and our appeal to government is that it should step up its food aid programme so that those in need are reached as quickly as possible to avoid calamities.
Government needs to up its game on this matter as we all know that relief food is often considered the most targeted type of food aid, even though flawless directing is not possible.