Malawians are staring into the raging jaws of hunger straight into the face as reports keep coming out about the devastation to crops caused by the twin problem of fall armyworm and dry spells.
We, are, however flabbergasted with the chaotic response displayed by government ministries, departments and agencies at a time they needed to be moving with a sense of urgency to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand.
First, it was Ministry of Agriculture officials mourning over the inadequate supply of the requisite chemicals with which to tame the fall armyworm problem. Instead of exploring the options that are at the government’s disposal, officials have chosen to take a lax approach, hands akimbo, waiting for development partners to, as usual, come to their rescue.
But we do not blame them because even their ultimate boss, President Peter Mutharika, has resorted to the same approach, as he simply declared a state of disaster and currently goes about unconcerned that ordinary citizens have nowhere to turn to as their fields get devastated, and cannot afford to buy alternative foods since their produce from last season could not fetch good prices on the market, especially after the same government effected a maize export ban.
While the Agriculture officials were waiting for the chemicals to fall like manna from heaven, nature has again unleashed its wrath by exposing a number of districts to a dry spell which has seen crops wilting, prompting district officials to engage in panic mode, appealing for well wishers to start committing food assistance.
But all this borders on one thing; coordinated planning that should have led to national readiness to disasters anytime they strike like now, is non- existent in this administration.
By now, the Department for Disaster Management Affairs and the key stakeholders should have already ensured that the country’s stock reserves are replenished, considering that Malawi has in recent years been susceptible to hunger owing to natural disaster occurrences such as the dry spells and flooding.
We are sure that the same cycle is likely to be repeated in coming years if we do not change our approach to such disasters.
The big question on everyone’s mind in light of the latest developments is: Who will rescue us from the pangs of this latest looming hunger?
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