Messages from Malawi: Dalitso reflects on the hunger crisis

Dalitso is our head of programmes in Malawi. In this blog, he shares his perspective of the current food crisis and how it compares to the one he faced as a child growing up in Malawi.

Dalitso Mcheka
Dalitso Mcheka
Head of programmes, Malawi

Back to all stories | Posted on 08 Dec 2016 in Blog

There have been erratic rainfalls – leading to a terrible combination of floods and drought – in most parts of Malawi in this year’s planting season, which has resulted in a low harvest of maize across the country. 

I experienced a similar situation as a child in 1991/92 which led the Malawi Government to get ‘yellow maize’ from Kenya to distribute to households. My mother would get temporary jobs to get money for maize flour which we would mix with water for eating.   

Fast forward to this year’s planting season and the situation seems to be worse. I recently met Felecia Lucius, a mother of six, from Patsalabande village in Blantyre. She used to harvest 18 bags in previous years – each containing 50kgs of crops like maize and beans – but could not manage anything this year as the rains stopped very early.  In most markets, maize is selling at an average of approximately 1,400 Malawian Kwacha for a 5kg bag which a lot of people cannot afford. This leads to a scramble for maize husks at maize mills, even though they’re normally used for animals. 

The school health and nutrition patron at Chisawani Primary School, Mr Paundi, highlights that of late there has been an upward surge of volunteers who come to cook Mary’s Meals. He attributes this to the worsening hunger situations in the villages as they know that if they do not come, their children will be hungry. I have spoken to many children who said they would drop out of school if they did not get a chance to have Mary’s Meals. Together with their parents they agree that the school feeding programme is helping a lot in mitigating hunger.    

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Millions are going hungry. Help us reach more children now.