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Aid politicisation affecting humanitarian response

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By Jameson Chauluka and Sellina Tambula:

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs, (Dodma), has expressed concern over political interference in the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC)’s Humanitarian Response programme as the country is facing a tough lean food period for 2022/2023.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao)’s Famine Early Warning System (Fewsnet) expects a tough lean food period owing to worsening macroeconomic conditions, driven by existing inflationary pressures, climatic shocks, and disruption to global supply chains due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

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But speaking during an assessment of the lean season distribution exercise for 2021 to 2022, Commissioner for Disasters, Charles Kalemba said political interference defeats the purpose of the programme as some hunger-stricken people are left out.

“We had an instance in Blantyre where a councilor confiscated maize from officials and kept it at his house. When we did investigations, we found that the district council was sometimes powerless to control involvement of politicians in such interventions,” said Kalemba.

During the event, District Commissioner for Mwanza Malango Botomani called for better ways of eliminating hunger saying in many cases it is the same people who receive assistance year in and year out.

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In the April 2022 report, Fewsnet observed that minimum expenditure baskets have already increased for rural and urban households since the start of the year, particularly in the southern region which was hit by tropical storms Ana and Gombe on top of the prolonged dry spell at the beginning of the growing season.

The report says both food and non-food prices are expected to increase through the outlook period, limiting household purchasing power and financial access to food.

While this is the case, the government is yet to come up with a Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report which guides the government’s lean food period response.

A spokesperson for the Economic Planning and Development Allan Jere said government officials will be locked in a meeting today [Friday] to discuss how to respond to this year’s lean food period.

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