By Katie Anne Smith, Brighter Futures Zambia co-founder and trustee
Zambia is currently experiencing a prolonged drought caused largely by the low rainfall during the ‘rainy season’ which runs from November to March.
This season rains did not arrive until January and were then light and sporadic. The Southern Province, where the community groups BFZ support are located, is worst affected.
Households are running down their food stocks and relying on market purchases and the price of maize, the staple food, has skyrocketed as government stores run dry.
Maize being cut from cobs very depleted harvest, this is for a household with 12 children for one year.
The households we support are already the most vulnerable, often headed by older females and housing several children, they stand to suffer the most. Most of the homes we support rely on the small maize crops they grow to be stored and last throughout the year, and this year these crops failed.
During my visit in April/ May, the fields of maize were a truly sorry sight; endless fields of stunted, desiccated husks where armies of tall plants should have been ripening for harvest. Worse still, the groups informed me that crops of groundnuts, sweet potatoes and beans which usually supplement diets, had also entirely failed.
Here at Brighter Futures Zambia we are ready to help where we can, whilst realising that the scale of the situation requires intervention on a far larger scale.
Thanks to a generous grant we are able to offer a meal supplement to the children who attend our Miyoba preschool; 40% of Zambian children in this age group suffer stunting from malnourishment, so we want to focus on these children as a priority.
The meals that we provide to the children from our seven community groups at our weekly wellbeing sessions will continue to be provided and will be especially important and the children who we sponsor to school will benefit from school meals.