Been some developments today.
Article extract >>
BLANTYRE, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Britain has given Malawi a grant of 15.2 million pounds ($26.95 million) to fight hunger in the southern African country, newspapers reported on Friday.
British International Development Minister Gareth Thomas, on a visit to Malawi, said the food assistance brought total British aid to Malawi to 65 million pounds this year, one of the largest packages in Africa.
End extract <<
For full article :: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L07211872.htm
More in depth on the issue...
[color=dark-blue]Article extracct >>
CHIEF NEWS CORRESPONDENT
• Scotland's African 'twin' nation faces food crisis
• Five million lives are at stake in poverty-stricken country
• Deaths are already being reported
"Time is ticking away and people are struggling to survive already. They don't have the ability to cope with a food crisis." - Malcolm Fleming of Oxfam Scotland
Story in full
FIVE million people are facing starvation in Malawi, the poor African nation "twinned" with Scotland.
Aid agencies yesterday warned it would be hit by the humanitarian crisis sweeping southern Africa as malnutrition rates rise. The first deaths have already been reported.
Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are also badly hit and the United Nations has appealed for millions of pounds worth of donations to avert a disaster which could eventually affect a total of 12 million people.
Just months ago Scotland's historical ties with the poor nation were reinforced with a mission led by Jack McConnell, the First Minister.
Scotland pledged to help health and education in the poverty-hit nation.
Yesterday, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said it remained $180 million (£100 million) short of the $400 million (£225 million) it estimates it needs to feed those affected. The UK donated £5 million in response to a flash appeal for £50 million, but other money has been slow to arrive.
The crisis has been blamed on the failure of the rains, coupled with an AIDS pandemic which has decimated families, orphaning many vulnerable children. It comes just months after the world woke up to the devastating famine in Niger.
Yesterday, Oxfam, one of the aid agencies trying to get food to those in need, warned that action was needed urgently to avoid a repeat of that crisis.
Malcolm Fleming, of Oxfam Scotland, said:
"Time is ticking away and people are struggling to survive already. They don't have the ability to cope with a food crisis."
He said the signs of a looming crisis were already plain to see. Some children had already died from eating poisonous roots which they had been forced to scavenge after food ran out.
"When Niger came to the public attention, people were asking why wasn't anything done to prevent it reaching that stage," he said. "Well, that us what is happening now in southern Africa. We have to learn the lessons of Niger."
Malawi's main opposition party has warned that the country is heading down the same path as Niger and called on President Bingu wa Mutharika to take urgent steps to address the crisis. Sam Mpasu, of the United Democratic Front, said: "Malawi should press the panic button and raise the alarm. The president should declare a state of national disaster.
"Malawi will soon resemble images of Niger as people die of diseases related to malnutrition. We need to put our act together and purchase all the food now if Malawi is to avert the Niger scenario."
James Morris, executive director of the WFP, warned that the looming famine had now displaced Darfur as the "most serious humanitarian crisis in the world". Mr Morris said the situation was likely to be worse than three years ago when the region was last hit by a food crisis.
Governments and aid agencies estimate some 12 million people will need food handouts for six months until the next harvest starts in April 2006.
Gareth Thomas, the UK's international development minister, said yesterday that other countries needed to do more to help. Britain's donation of £5 million to the UN's flash appeal amounts to a third of the total donated, which is a mere £15 million of the £50 million needed immediately.
Mr Thomas, who was visiting Malawi to assess the scale of the crisis, offered praised to the country's government for purchasing 60,000 tonnes of food, but said others had to honour their pledges.
Mike Huggins, regional spokesman for the WFP, said that it would take £225 million - an amount dwarfing the Niger appeal - to purchase the food needed to sustain the population. Mr Huggins said the agency remained around £100 million short of its goal despite having warned about the impending crisis for months.
Antonella D'Aprile, of the WFP, said that people in Malawi had simply run out of food earlier than usual and in some places were risking their lives to harvest water lilies from the country's marshes to keep themselves alive.
"Usually the hungry season only begins in December, but we need food urgently now," she said. "People are already eating water lillies and they are risking attacks from crocodiles when they collect them. They are desperate."
Poor rains in many parts of the region have left much of the staple maize crop stunted and withered on the stalk, not least in Zimbabwe, whose once flourishing farm sector is in crisis. It has been exacerbated by the AIDS pandemic, which is killing off much of the rural workforce and leaving many peasants too sick to farm the land.
Farmers in densely populated Malawi have sown crops on steep hillsides, leading to erosion that results in fertile soil being washed down its rivers to the sea.
Some five million Malawians - almost half the population of one of the world's poorest countries - need food aid, and malnutrition levels are rising alarmingly. Some Malawians have already died after eating inedible plants to stave off hunger pangs, according to rural residents.
The International Red Cross added its voice to the global appeal for aid on Wednesday, saying it urgently needed £15 million to help feed the needy in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ironically, South Africa is sitting on a mountain of expensive maize which it cannot sell. South Africa's Crop Estimates Committee said last month its projection for the 2005 maize crop was unchanged at a bumper 12.18 million tonnes, which is expected to leave a surplus of 5 million tonnes.
McConnell's concern for twinned nation
JACK McConnell has become increasingly worried about the worsening situation in Malawi and has asked Scots to give generously to help.
A spokeswoman for the First Minister said Mr McConnell was "concerned" and that he was being kept informed about what was happening in the southern African country which he toured on an official visit just five months ago.
She added: "The Department for International Development has been the biggest single donor - it has given about £20 million so far, we have kept in close contact and officials have kept us aware of the situation.
"The First Minister knows what it is like there and urges Scots to give generously."
Mr McConnell visited Malawi in May in the run-up to the G8 summit at Gleneagles to mark the country's twinning with Scotland.
He visited the Liwonde feeding centre in the heart of the country, where women and children were already being fed by charities because of a shortage of food.
But the First Minister was assured by charity staff and Malawian officials that preparations were being made to head off the worst effects of the poor harvest which was expected later in the year.
Mr McConnell pledged up to £3 million in development money for Malawi while he was there, but the Scottish Executive is very limited in what it can do.
It cannot cut across the work of the Department for International Development, and so cannot provide direct aid.
The Executive money is going to help train teachers, nurses and other frontline service workers. This is the limit of the Executive's remit.
But Mr McConnell also launched a Scottish-Malawi appeal fund on his return from the country.
The fund has raised about £37,500, but might top £50,000 when the royalties pledged by Alexander McCall Smith, the author, are added to it.
Some of that money has already been spent on projects organised by Scottish charities and directly by the charities on the ground there.
Mr McConnell has stressed that the money given by Scots would not go direct to the Malawian government.
A history of failed crops and mismanagement
MALAWI suffered a severe hunger crisis in 2002, when drought caused crops to fail across southern Africa.
The crisis left as many as three million people in Malawi facing starvation whilst millions more were affected across the region.
The situation was not helped by a catastrophic decision to sell off hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain.
At the time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was forced to deny that it ordered Malawi to sell off its grain reserves to service some of its £95 million debt to the organisation.
The government of Malawi blamed the IMF and the World Bank for advising it to make the sell off. As a result of the move, huge concrete halls designed to accommodate grain reserves lay empty.
Flash floods and financial mismanagement ensured they were not refilled.
• IF you want to help alleviate the current crisis in southern Africa, you can make donations through Oxfam:
IN PERSON: Cash and cheques are accepted over the counter at any Oxfam shop.
BY POST: Send cheques, made payable to 'Oxfam' by post to: Oxfam House , John Smith Drive , Oxford OX4 2JY
BY PHONE: 0870 333 2700
End extract <<
Source :: http://news.scotsman.com/internation...?id=2050822005 [/color]
There is an appeal up and running for the whole Southern African region spanning half a dozen countries and up to 12 million people at risk.
The 9 words of life quote -
"Act with honour, seek justice, die true, remembered well."
GO LDN 2012 ~ AIM = Critic News Info