Government Adamant to Declare Food Crisis to Unlock Humanitarian Aid: Zambian Churches

We have tried to convince the Government to declare a national emergency by letting the world know that we need help, but this has not happened: Churches

Churches Clash with Government in Zambia over Declaration of Food Crisis to Unlock Humanitarian Aid
Zambian President Edgar Lungu participates in a discussion at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Churches in Zambia recently raised the alarm regarding the food situation in the country and called on the government to declare a food crisis to unlock international humanitarian help, AMECEA News reports.


Bishop George Cosmas Lungu of Chipata Diocese, who also doubles as the President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that declaring an emergency was the first step in addressing it.

“We believe as a Catholic Church that it would not only be wise but necessary for the government to send a very clear message — not only to the people in Zambia but the world at large — acknowledging the problem,” he said.

“And we are not saying that when we say there is a problem, it is the fault of one person or another; of one ministry or another in government. These are things that occur because of climate change because of unfavourable weather patterns. The only responsible way to address the situation is not to bury our heads in the sand. We must face the truth, and the truth is that people need help,” he added.

The prelate, expressing hope that aid will come soon for the sake of the people if the red flag was raised, said the efforts that were made to persuade the government to signal the crisis were aborted.

“Together with some ambassadors, NGOs and civil society we have tried to convince the Government to declare a national emergency by letting the world know that we need help, but unfortunately, this has not happened. Facts are facts: People are foraging for fruit in the forests because they have no food… you cannot hide that fact. It would have been more prudent to say openly that the situation is much more serious than we thought,” adds Bishop Lungu.

While the Zambian government has rejected the call, insisting that the situation was “under control and manageable”, and that they have enough supplies of grain, the United Nations issued a warning, however, about the growing threat of hunger in the west and south of the country.

Rev. Dr Peggy Mulambya-Kabonde, the general secretary of the United Church of Zambia, told the World Council of Churches that things were “so bad in the south and west of Zambia” and that the nation has to pray to God to have mercy on them.

According to information from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the secretariat of the Zambia Red Cross, the number of hungry families in Zambia has risen from 1.9 million registered in March 2019 to a current 2.3 million.

Zambian think-tank, Indaba Agricultural and Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), claimed, Zambia was now the fifth hungriest country in the world as hunger levels chiefly in rural parts of the country are estimated at 43 percent.

Southern Africa is grappling with one of the worst droughts in decades after months of erratic rainfall and record-high temperatures.

Zimbabwe, the nation’s south-easterly neighbour, has already declared an emergency and is seeking over $300 million in humanitarian aid to prevent hunger after drought and flooding curbed farm output.

It appears as if the sad song will not stop anytime for Zambia as more gloomy news keeps on pouring. Last week, ReliefWeb, a leading online source for humanitarian information on global crises and disasters, said that heavy rainfall has driven flash and riverine flooding in Zambia, including in areas previously impacted by severe drought.

The flooding has destroyed crops, including maize, especially in Munyumbwe area in Gwembe District, according to the Government’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU)

The torrential rainfall and flooding could aggravate the already fragile food insecurity situation in Zambia.

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