Japanese food aid ends in April
The people in Balaka should find other means of accessing food as the Japanese government supported food aid programme ends next month.
This year, government of Japan provided about US$7.3 million to Malawi; US$5million is meant for humanitarian relief assistance in times of emergencies such as floods, drought and food shortage among vulnerable households and Balaka is one of the beneficiaries.
The programme ends next month and hopes for continued assistance will depend on new agreement between the two governments.
District Commissioner for Balaka Rodrick Mateauma told The Daily Times that the targeted 33,558 households that are receiving food assistance are below the number of households in dire need of food.
“The targeted households represent just half of the population of this district but when you go down to the communities, you will observe that many people are struggling to find food.
“Balaka is a very disadvantaged district because for 10 years now, we either experience floods or dry spell hence throughout these years people have not realised enough harvest from their fields,” said Mateauma who was expected to meet the Japanese ambassador to Malawi to see the possibilities of extending the programme.
Japanese Ambassador to Malawi Shuichiro Nishioka said his government is yet to discuss with the government of Malawi on the matter.
Nishioka was speaking on Wednesday when he joined the World Food Programme, led by its country director Coco Ushiyama, to visit the sites of the ongoing food distribution and integrated recovery project supported by Japanese government in the district.
“Yes the donor community is very concerned about the situation in Malawi and we will see how to handle it but we will have to talk with the government of Malawi to map the way forward,” stated Nishioka.
Ushiyama said the programme’s success story is that the momentum is growing as they shift from relief, recovery to resilience.
“These are tough times for these people and as WFP we are doing the best to break the cycle of hunger and help them become self reliant. Other interventions we are doing are to encourage them do irrigation farming, construct fish ponds and plant trees,” Ushiyama said.
Mpamasi, Adam and Mpilisi are the villages under Traditional Authority Kalembo that are benefiting from the programme.
The 2015 Malawi vulnerability assessment report indicates that Balaka district is one of the vulnerable districts in need of food assistance and recovery programmes. The district is usually affected by floods, drought and dry spell.
Last year nearly 200,000 people in Balaka were reported to be food insecure following the floods and little rainfall that affected crop production.
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