By Vumani Mthiyane
WARD 4 villagers under Chief Muzimuni Mbiko Masuku have called for the extension of food aid by Africare, as they strongly feel four months support will not mitigate against the drought situation experienced in the district.
Speaking on the sidelines of the drought relief programme recently held at Lumene Business Centre, an elderly Sakhile Dube of Hlengisizwe Line said the drought situation in the district is dire.
“When the January and February rains pounded we thought they were going to rescue the situation but unfortunately they were not significant. In addition, the little crops we had were hit by fall-armyworm. However, we are very thankful to Africare for their food aid programme although their operation period won’t take us through to the next farming season,” Dube pointed out.
When Africare submitted their application to the Gwanda Rural District Development Committee intending to operate for only four months, the august house felt that the period is too short to assist the communities.
“To start of with, which criteria did Africare use to select the wards they intend to operate from? Secondly, four months is too short a period and will not be enough to alleviate hunger to the affected communities,” said District Development Coordinator, Keliboni Ndou.
Asked about the selection criteria, Ward 4 Councillor Lobukhosi Malila said, “Double dipping cannot be ruled out but working in collaboration with our traditional leaders we are doing our level best to make sure everyone is covered.”
The Africare programme hands out 7kg of maize per head, 0.5mls of cooking oil and 0.5grammes of sugar beans.
Its target are the aged, child headed families and marginalised households that are not benefiting from other similar programmes.
Ward 4 has 1 682 households while Lumene village has 460 households of which some are benefiting from the government food aid programme that is spearheaded by the Department Social Welfare.