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Hunger looms in Lumezi valley

A critical food crisis has hit the valley areas of Lumezi District in the Eastern Province.

Lumezi District Commissioner, Jimmy Phiri and Headman Chese of Kazembe chiefdom have both confirmed the hunger situation in separate interviews with the Zambia News and Information Service (ZANIS) in the area.

Headman Chese, Elijah Phiri, said over 200 villages in Chief Kazembe’s area have run out of staple food to feed their families.

The Headman identified some of the most hit villages as Chese, Mgwilapako, Kabindama, Zumale, Kauta, and Msekeni among others.

He said the only dried mango chips which the people depended on have now run out, leaving them with no food or wild fruits to feed on.

The village headman attributed the hunger situation in the valley to human-animal conflict as elephants are ravaging and destroying people’s crop fields, leaving them vulnerable.

He said if the current situation is not addressed, it might lead people to start dying of starvation in the valley area in Lumezi.

The traditional ruler has since appealed to the government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), under the office of the Vice President, to urgently send enough relief food to the area to avert people dying of hunger.

And Lumezi District Commissioner Jimmy Phiri said he was aware of the hunger situation in the valley areas.

However, the District Commissioner said the government through the Food Reserve Agency has opened community sales to the people at Lumezi FRA shed.

“People can walk to FRA shed and buy a bag. In the valley we don’t have any outlet there, we only have one outlet the whole district which is Lumezi,” he said.

Mr Phiri said arrangements have been made with Community Resource Board (CRB) to transport maize for community sales to Chitungulu where people from the valley could access it to reduce on distance coverage.

He further said relief food might in two weeks’ time come for distribution to the hunger affected household families in the valley areas of Chiefs Kazembe, Chitungulu and Mwanya including the plateau.

Meanwhile, the Village Headman Chese has also appealed to the government to construct a referral hospital to curb maternal deaths in the area.

“Since the country got its independence in 1964, we have had no referral hospital in the area,” he said.

The village head said Lumezi referral hospital is about 120 Kilometers away from Kataba, which has hindered expecting mothers to access maternal health service delivery.

“In our area, we have people who are educated, some got six points, but we don’t have a university, not even a college, so I beg the President to come to our aid,” the traditional ruler said.