Malawi news update
- Malawi declares famine
By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre
Malawi's President, Bakili Muluzi, has declared a
state of national disaster because of
widespread famine and reports of increasing
With 70% of the southern African country's
population reported to be on the verge of
starvation, the president said traditional
leaders had told him that food shortages were
becoming critical, particularly in rural areas.
Parents are reported to
be selling their children
to avoid the
responsibility of having
to feed them.
In a national address
broadcast on television
and radio, the president
also warned that the
food crisis was likely to
continue into next year.
He said the crop harvest would be significantly
reduced because people had begun eating
"green maize" - or unripe corn - instead of
keeping it for planting.
'One death a day'
In one desperate case, a mother in central
Malawi is reported to have offered to sell her
five children to raise money for food. Her sixth
child died of malnutrition.
"The children shall starve to death if I keep
them," Margaret Phiri, 30, told the state-run
Malawi news agency. "They stand a better
chance of surviving with other people."
In the southern town
of Balaka, police say
at least one person is
starving to death each
Reports from rural
areas say people are
dying almost daily
after eating tubers or
Old people are simply
starving to death.
Vice-President Justin Malewezi told visiting
officials from the International Monetary Fund
on Wednesday that the government needed an
estimated $21.6m to avoid disaster, but has
secured only $1.6m.
The United Nations World Food Programme
says it is targeting 2.4 m hungry people in
southern Africa - in Zambia and Zimbabwe as
well as in Malawi.
Malawi's Government appealed to donor
countries, private companies and
non-governmental organisations for urgent
assistance earlier this month, warning that
thousands could die if food did not reach them
Food distribution has
been hindered by
heavy floods in two
damaging Beit Bridge
on the South
border and a section
of railway-line on the
Nacala Corridor in
The government has
also been accused of
country's food stocks, having sold a large
quantity of corn to Kenya last year when there
was a surplus.
Several Western governments have cut aid to
Malawi, accusing the government of corruption