Christian Aid's appeal has now reached =A31 million thanks to the generosity of Christian Aid supporters. Tony Dykes, Head of southern Africa team has just returned from Zimbabwe,
'The response to the Christian Aid appeal has been outstanding, as always. We know that we can trust in our supporters to help us from preventing this crisis from becoming a major catastrophe. But we cannot stop now. More help is needed to ensure that over the next few months partner organisations can purchase seeds, fertiliser and in some cases provide food aid. We need to provide a hope and a future for the poorest families and with continued support and prayers we can achieve that, together.'
The United Nations has outlined its urgent need for more than US $600 million to prevent further tragedy in southern Africa where an estimated 14 million people face starvation. Its recent appeal states that the crisis is still ongoing in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland where people are 'on the very edge of survival.'
Christian Aid partners in Malawi confirm that the worst may still be yet to come as the poorest rural communities have all but run out of their meagre harvests. 'The food shortage is really taking its grip now in some areas', reports Jones Laviwa Executive Director of Christian Aid partner Churches Action for Relief and Development (CARD). 'CARD is monitoring the situation in several districts directly or through its church network. Some districts especially those in the southern part of the country have already exhausted their few food reserves. The food shortage is quite enormous such that most people will run out of their food resources by August/September.'
Christian Aid response
Christian Aid is preparing for a =A31 million food security seeds and agricultural inputs project with partners in Malawi that will begin in August and run until 31 May 2003. The aim of the project is to put an end to the prevailing downward spiral of household food shortages for 83,400 poor rural families in southern, central and northern Malawi, in communities in which our partners are already working. Due to poverty and to hunger many small-scale subsistence farmers have already used as food most of the seed that they traditionally save for the new season's planting in October.
In southern Malawi, the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) will work with 11,700 households in Zomba district and CARD will support 20,000 households in Nsanje, Thyolo and Mchinji districts. In central and southern areas the Evangelical Lutheran Development Programme (ELDP) will support 30,000 households in Chikwawa, Phalombe, Dedza, Dowa, Lilongwe and other districts and in the north of Malawi, Livingstonia Synod of CCAP will support 21,700 households in Karonga, Rumphi, Mzimba and Kasungu.
Families will receive maize seed and fertiliser and another crop such as groundnut, sweet potato, cassava or bean seeds, depending on where they are located throughout Malawi. These seeds will enable them to be ready to plant when the rains arrive in October-December to secure a harvest in April-May 2003. This harvest should then be sufficient to provide enough food for the families for the remaining months of 2003.
To ensure that the seeds are planted and not eaten Christian Aid partners will link the distribution of seeds and fertiliser with food aid assistance from other sources such as ACT International.
Christian Aid hopes to launch a new =A32.5 million food aid programme with partners in southern Zimbabwe. The new programme, following on from our current =A31 million programme of support, will run from October until next May. It aims to improve child nutrition in 10 areas of southern Zimbabwe that have been severely affected by drought and food shortages. It is hoped that DfID and the European Union will support the programme. The aim of the programme is to reach and feed 27,000 children under the age of 5 and nearly 136,000 school-going children.