Vatican News – Lusaka, Zambia
Bishop George Cosmas Lungu, of Chipata Diocese, who is also President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently raised the alarm regarding the food situation. This is according to information carried by the Nairobi-based AMECEA News, a regional online news sharing service owned by the region’s Bishops under the auspices of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa.
Lowest rains since 1981
Bishop Lungu’s call comes right on the heels of another appeal made by the Bishop of Mongu Diocese who is also Caritas Zambia Bishop Director, Evans Chinyemba, OMI.
Addressing journalists during the November 2019, ‘ZCCB Media Day’ in Lusaka, at the Catholic Secretariat, Bishop Chinyemba warned of the severe risk of food insecurity in the country due to a critical drought that has hit the Southern African country.
The areas most affected, explains AMECEA News, are Zambia’s Southern and Western Provinces. The two provinces, in 2019, received the lowest seasonal rainfall since 1981.
2.3 million Zambians facing a severe shortage of food
According to information from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the secretariat of the Zambia Red Cross, the number of hungry families in Zambia has risen from 1.9 million registered in March 2019 to a current 2.3 million.
Church leaders, NGOs as well as diplomats, have asked the Zambian Government to declare a national disaster. To the contrary, the Zambian Government insists that the hunger situation is under control and manageable.
Church calls on Government to declare an emergency
Declaring an emergency would unlock international humanitarian assistance.
“Together with some ambassadors, NGOs and civil society we have tried to convince the Government to declare a national emergency by letting the world know that we need help, but unfortunately this has not happened,” explains Bishop Lungu.
“Facts are facts: People are foraging for fruit in the forests because they have no food … you cannot hide that fact. It would have been more prudent to say openly that the situation is much more serious than we thought,” adds the prelate, expressing hope that aid will come soon for the sake of the people.