|May 23, 2002
Food shortage expected to worsen
Families in southern and western Zambia are expecting the worst in coming
months, if the current drought conditions continue, according to a report by
CARE International. The survey noted that eight out of 10 farmers reported
maize crop failure in the range of 76-100 percent of anticipated yields.
Given the lack of fully-grown crops, many households have begun eating green
maize but more distressing is that five people have already died from eating
CARE sector coordinator for agriculture, John Siame, told IRIN: "People who
are starving will eat whatever they can get their hands on. Wild roots
should be cooked for hours before consumed, many people do not realise this."
Over 80 percent of households in a survey of six districts in southern and
western Zambia said their maize supplies will run out by June.
"The rainfall was very poor this season. We had less than half of what we
had last year. It rained for a few days and the rain was unevenly
distributed. Farmers were expecting to harvest in March, but there was
nothing to harvest," he added.
Siame added that conditions for some families had deteriorated rapidly,
forcing them to reduce the number of daily meals.
"Almost 25 percent of families surveyed only eat once a day while close to
60 percent have had to manage on two meals," he said.
The report said those who still enjoyed three meals a day would be reduced
to a meal a day by September.
The current crisis was worsened by the late delivery of government
assistance, Siame said.
He said that government subsidised fertiliser had not arrived in time for
the sowing period which meant that many farmers had to wait to begin
planting their seeds. (IRIN)