THE situation in Chirundu where people in Ibbwemunyama ward are eating “ndiya”, wild roots suspected to be highly poisonous, should urgently be addressed before lives are lost.

The fact that people are risking their lives to ingest wild roots that are reportedly toxic, means the hunger situation has reached alarming levels and should not be ignored.

Even Chirundu council chairman Mr Robinson Sianduba suspects the roots are poisonous because people boil them for three days to ‘detoxify’ them before eating them.

The roots, he observed, are first soaked in water for seven days and then boiled for three days to neutralise the poison, if any at all, before consuming the stuff.

Sadly, the roots are understandably tasteless, and salt has to be added to at least make them palatable.

This is no laughing matter as no human being should be subjected to feeding on such.

But even if they were found to be fit for consumption, one cannot live on these roots alone, forsaking the importance of a balanced diet.

It is, therefore, indubitably clear this is a desperate situation, one that demands the urgency of now, and not tomorrow!

In other words, this problem should, as matter of urgency, be top priority for the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) who admittedly are working tirelessly to ensure “nobody dies of hunger”.

They say action speaks louder than words and herein is a case that demands immediate and pragmatic action, and not rhetoric!

We, therefore, implore the DMMU to quickly deliver food to the people of Ibbwemunyama before a catastrophe strikes. After all, prevention is better than cure.

The fact that nobody has died so far as a result of consuming the roots, is not a guarantee that they are safe for consumption, who knows this could be a case of slow poisoning.

This is why we applaud Mr Sianduba and the council for quickly rising to the challenge by ordering the district health office to take samples of the wild roots for testing at the lab to determine if they are fit for human consumption.

Yes, while it’s not strange for people, especially Africans to eat good and healthy wild roots or fruits, it is seriously risky for people to live on wild roots whose nutrition content and toxicity is questionable.

We are aware that Government at the highest level has pledged that nobody will die of hunger.  Indeed we have no reasons to doubt this because government has far lived up to its commitment.

However, we feel more needs to be done in terms of surveillance and data compilation to ensure all intended beneficiaries are captured and listed so they don’t lose out on the food relief programmes government is rolling out.

Could it be that this is what happened to the people of Ibbwemunyama? Could it be that the place is too remote such that those delivering relief food failed to reach the community in good time that that they were left with no choice but to resort to the wild roots in question?

Nevertheless, it is gratifying to hear that the remaining bags of mealie meal have been delivered and will be distributed to the needy next week Monday, according to Chirundu district commissioner Mr Stafford Kayame.

Mr Kayame says the Salvation Army Church, the project implementing partner in the distribution of mealie meal, is almost done with data compilation.

That’s welcome news! However, we feel everything possible should be done to distribute relief food to the people of Ibbwemunyama before Monday.

Theirs is too desperate a situation to wait for Monday. Procrastination is the thief of time –act now to save lives!

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