A fundraising event hosted by president Joyce Banda in the capital Lilongwe has raised up to K42 million(about $138, 000) to help fight hunger that has hit several parts of the southern Africa state.
Held Saturday, November 3, the event came on the heels of revised figures indicating that close to 2 million people in the country face starvation despite years of bumper harvests.
While the problem has been attributed to drought that hit some parts of the country last year, poor food distribution systems are also to blame, according to analysts.
At the Lilongwe fundraising event, well-wishers also pledged several tons of the sample food maize. It was held under the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty.
Earlier, a government disaster management official admitted that the number of people affected by hunger in the country was much higher than earlier stated in a latest Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Report.
Commissioner for Disasters Mr. Geoffrey Kanyinji said 2 million Malawians need food aid and not 1.6 million as earlier projected.
President Banda has claimed that government officials lied to her about the figure of people affected by hunger in the country.
She assured the country that all those affected by hunger will be duly assisted.
According to president Banda, the situation has been aggravated because the former regime of late Bingu wa Mutharika, praised for improving food security, hid to the world reports of hunger in some parts of the country in the past three years.
The president has, nonetheless, come under criticism for donating to people maize labeled ‘JB’ or Joyce Banda with some political analysts suggesting she could be diverting relief food provided by donors to win votes ahead of the 2014 polls.
The state house has insisted that the labeling is for the sake of transparency and that the maize she is personally donating is sourced by the Joyce Banda Foundation International, reported the Daily Times on Friday.
The most affected is southern Malawi which had erratic rains last season. There also other low-lying areas which have been affected in the centre such as Salima district due to floods that washed away people’s crops.
The so-called lean months are between October 2012 and March 2013.
The World Food Programme previously said it required K6 billion to reach out to the initial 1.6 million people in need of food assistance as a result of crop failure and high prices.
The situation has also been worsened the May 2012 devaluation of the kwacha which has seen maize prices going to an average of K55.50/kg from K30.
Meanwhile, 5 thousand food insecure households in Balaka district will for the next six months benefit from food aid courtesy of the Health and Development Commission of the Church of Central African Presbyterian Blantyre Synod.
Balaka is one the worst affected districts in the south.
General Secretary of CCAP Blantyre Synod Reverend Alex Maulana said each household will be receiving a 50 kg bag of maize, two and a half litres of cooking oil and a pack of beans every month.