–The District Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) in Mkushi district has implored the DMMU at the Office of the Vice President to help speed up relief food activities in the district.
Mkushi DMMU Chairperson, Christopher Chibuye, told ZANIS that there was need for quick action from the Office of the Vice President to help speed up relief maize delivery to hunger stricken areas such as the Luano valley.
Mr Chibuye, who is also Mkushi District Commissioner (DC), said the hunger situation in the valley Chiefdoms of Luano district was worrisome as these areas had recently experienced flash floods.
He said the 2012 to 2013 rainfall pattern in both Mkushi and Luano districts had been short but heavy, adding that crop fields in the valley areas of Luano district had experienced flooding as farmers cultivated along the Lunsemfwa River.
He said the Luano valley areas were previously hit by a dry spell during the 2011-2012 rainy season and the recent floods had further compounded the hunger situation.
Mr Chibuye noted that the National DMMU had been conducting ground surveys to assess the needs and vulnerability situation in relation to relief food in several parts of the two districts.
He said there was need to support these survey initiatives with speedy assistance in form of more relief food and ready transportation, adding that the local DMMU was facing serious challenges with transport logistics.
Mr Chibuye also mentioned that the roads into the Luano valley Chiefdoms were extremely bad, saying the other road options of getting to these areas involved entry routes that passed through Chongwe and Chibombo districts.
“Airlifting is the best mode of transporting large quantity of the relief food but road transport would require passing through these two districts” he mentioned.
Mr Chibuye pointed out that his office had received reports that hinted that residents in the valley Chiefdoms of Chembe, Mboshya and Mboroma, were feeding on wild fruits in order to cope with the hunger situation.
In a related contribution, the Reformed Church of Zambia (RCZ) has disclosed that 45 metric tonnes of DMMU relief maize was still being kept in store pending distribution to Luano valley.
The RCZ, which is under contract as distributing agent for DMMU relief food in Mkushi, disclosed the data through its DMMU Coordinator, Cephas Kaunda.
Mr Kaunda said last year, the RCZ had distributed 90 metric tonnes of relief maize to Luano valley chiefdoms of Chembe and Mboshya.
He said another 45 metric tonnes had been distributed to vulnerable persons in plateau areas of both Mkushi and Luano districts.
The coordinator expressed hope that the challenge with transport logistics would be harmonized soon as the remaining 45 metric tonnes of maize was becoming prone to weevil pest attacks if it was not delivered quickly.
Earlier, the National DMMU had sent a team to conduct ground survey assessment on relief food and vulnerability in the two districts.
Delegation leader for this team, Andrew Lulozhi, revealed that the rain pattern for 2012-2013 season was likely to unfold with reduction in crop yields.
Mr Lulozhi observed that such a situation hinted that some hunger situations may be expected in some parts of the two districts.
He, however, stressed that there was need for the District DMMU to seriously consider scaling up efforts that aimed at sensitizing residents on coping strategies related to human settlements as well as agriculture.
He explained that there was need to discourage people from building houses or cultivating fields in close proximity with the river banks.
Mr Lulozhi further said there was need to promote the use of crop seed varieties that were either drought resistant or early maturing.