Experts Advice Govt to Act Swiftly on Drought

Experts Advice Govt to Act Swiftly on Drought

Lilongwe: Agriculture experts in the Malawi capital say the government needs to promptly conduct an assessment to have a right picture and data of how many people have been affected by the dry spell so as to make right decisions.

Horace Phiri and Leonard Chhimwaza say the dry spell has hit most parts of Southern Africa due to the El Nino phenomenon, and countries will be competing for support from donors, hence the need for Malawi to swiftly get the required information.

The two have tipped the Malawi to be prompt in it's decision making.

The Zambian government has declared the prolonged dry spell in the country a national disaster, calling for support as approximately 1 million of the 2.2 million hectares of planted area for maize has been destroyed.

In light of this, the experts say the Malawi government should disregard the first crop estimates who's results it released last week and conduct a new assessment.

Phiri says at this time, most countries will seek support from development partners thereby a quick assessment by Malawi will help on how to move forward.

“So, countries have to compete in order to get assistance. The earlier we start flagging that we may have a potential food deficit the better because we will fit in with whoever is going to bring assistance to the region; we will be part of their plan. But if we delay, that may affect our ability to get assistance,” he said.

Concurring with Phiri, Chimwaza says the government should continue implementing measures put in place to help those affected by hunger while waiting to conduct a new assessment.

“If we delay in conducting proper assessment in as far as the prolonged dry spell is concerned, then what it means is that we will also delay on decision making because we just need to have the information on the data now so that proper decisions are made."

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale says a second round of crop production estimates will be done this month and the government has already put in place strategies to help those likely to be affected by hunger.

The estimates indicated that the country is like to have a high maize yield, a development that sparked criticism against the authorities given the reality on the ground.

Kawale later clarified that the assessment was conducted prior to the planting period when the pinch of the drought had yet been felt.

Meanwhile, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services says lakeshore areas and the northern part of Malawi will continue experiencing heavy rains, whereas the Central and Southern parts will experience intermittent rainfall.

The department further says from Monday, many districts in the country will experience heavy rains.

Several countries in the Southern Africa region have this year been hit by a spate of dry spells which is likely to lead into hunger as large portions of cereal crops have wilted.

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