ZAMBIA: BAD AID
October 2002 400
39 year old Madalena Phiri hacks at the dry, hard earth, she has no seed or fertiliser and the rains have failed for 2 succesive seasons but she dares not give up hope. Her husband who has always helped her work their field died 2 years ago, leaving her to care for their 9 children alone.
Sync. Madalena Phiri:
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We are always hungry and I am alone without my husband which makes the situation worse. I try my best to cultivate my field but cannot produce enough to feed my children.
At one time Chilembwe village was a succesful agricultural community, but today it is a scene of grinding poverty. The villagers are confronted with the threat of starvation. Madalena is forced to spend most of her day scouring the surrounding bush for wild fruit and roots to feed her children. Often she is too late some other desperate person has dug the bitter roots to feed their own family.
Zambia together with neighbouring Zimbabwe has often been called Africas bread basket but economic mismanagement, low prices for the products from their mines,corruption and an overwhelming Aids pandemic have combined to create a situation where the majority of Zambians live in abject poverty.
Sync Mary Kalunga ( Lutheran World Federation project officer)
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We never used to talk about having enough food in this country we used to have a lot of food.
Sync: Richard Reagan ( UN World Food Programme Director Zambia)
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More than 80% of Zambians live below the poverty line. Its one of the few countries where I have seen 3 categories of poor. Poor Poorer and Poorest.
The United Nations World Food Programme anticipated famine in Southern Africa in time to put in place stores of donated food well in advance . Much of the food however is Genetically Modified maize donated by the United States and the Zambian government has halted its distribution citing uncertainty as to the effects it may have on a population for whom maize is the staple diet and the risk it may pose to the market for Zambias future commercial maize crops.
For the starving population and for those trying to get urgent food relief to them this poses a major problem.
Sync: Richard Reagan
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You know, moving hundreds of thousands of tons ito a landlocked country in the middle of Africa is not like turning a light switc hon and off in your home .Iit takes months of planning and preparation and when decisions change the course of events that has a huge impact on the ability of everone to deliver relief food.
Madalena hopes that the rains will not fail again this season, but even if the climate is favourable, she has not been able to keep any grain for seed and if she were to get a crop harvest will not be for at least another 4 months.
Sync: Afunika Mumisa ( Chilembwe village elder )
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In the next few weeks and months, if this continues I think many people will die and most many people will get affected by different disease because of lack of food in their bodies.
Sync: Madalena Phiri
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I am ashamed to complain in front of visitors, but my children are hungry, we have little or nothing to eat at home and the only thing I can think about is how to find the means to feed my children before they go to bed.
Madalena Phiri is just one of many Zambian mothers whos children will go to bed without food tonight.