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3.3 million people face hunger

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By Faith Kamthabe:

Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) has predicted that 3.3 million people face hunger this year, with the Southern Region to be the hardest hit

But Agriculture Committee of Parliament has doubted the projections which Mvac officials presented to Parliament in Lilongwe Tuesday.

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Acting Chief Director in the Department of Economic Planning and Development, Peter Simbani, told the committee that they used a methodology which most countries in Southern African Development Community (Sadc) use.

“We presented the Mvac report which is showing that 3.3 million people would be food insecure this year. The MPs [Members of Parliament] are not happy; they wanted a higher figure. Our reaction is that this figure has been arrived at based on the methodology that has been used not only in Malawi but in all Sadc countries. So, that is their view but that is what we have come up with,” he said.

But the committee’s chairperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, said based on Mvac’s previous projections, which proved incorrect, they feel that the latest figures are not right.

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He said what worries the committee is that inaccurate data affects everything including relief food distribution planning.

“The members are not happy; they have expressed reservations in terms of the numbers Mvac presented to the committee. The major issue is the way they do the data collection process. It looks like there is a lot that they have to improve on.”

“They have to look at how they can improve on sampling, the method and the people they meet when doing studies because the numbers are not just correct. We just have to find a way of correcting this. The other time they said about four million people would be food insecure but the whole country ended up being hungry. So each time, they do not end up being right. We do not think they will get it right this time,” he said.

But Simbani said he is sure that the projections are accurate as experts in the agriculture sector were involved in the study.

He also said he was not surprised by the observations of the parliamentarians, arguing that they want them to be using constituency areas not extension planning areas (EPAs) so that their constituents should be benefitting from food aid when the numbers of affected people is projected to be high.

Last year, Mvac report projected that six million Malawians would be in need of food, with over 45 percent of the rural population being food insecure.

But Simbani said last year there were disasters such as floods and drought and this is not the case this year.

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