By Wilson Allan Phiri
As the public is still debating on the effects of the devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha, nutrition stakeholders and NGOs championing children’s rights have predicted an increase in the prevalence rate of malnutrition among children in the country.
Recently, Government effected the devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha by 25%.
Since time in memorial, malnutrition has been the major factor that continues to affect underage children in the country, leading to stunting.
Despite several interventions, statistics show that currently the malnutrition rate stands at 35%.
However, stakeholders fear the rate might worsen following the 25% devaluation rate of the Malawi kwacha which was recently effected by government.
A Snap survey by Timveni Online has revealed that since the declaration of the devaluation of the local currency, the country has seen prices of basic commodities soaring.
This is against the background that people’s income has not been increased and they are suffering the effects of climate change which have led to low agricultural productivity.
Getting on the ground, we will hear the tale of a widow we shall call Elinita Zimba for the sake of reference.
She is a Chinsapo-based mother to 4 children with the last born aged just 2.
Narrating her story to Timveni Online, Zimba said the devaluation of the Kwacha has already started biting as she can no longer provide nutritious food to her siblings.
For Miss Zimba, who receives MW45, 000 per month, the news about devaluation was her lowest point this year as she lost her husband who was the breadwinner.
Also sharing his grievances is Dwangwa-based nutritionist John Kapatamoyo who believes that families that live from hand-to-mouth will be greatly affected.
Kapatamoyo says the concern is on children that are hopeless and depend on parents to bring food on the table.
The nutritionist has however requested government to champion the agenda of increasing people’s income for sustained strides in promoting nutrition.
Kapatamoyo says it is frustrating that the kwacha has been devalued without proper strategies that will caution people in these trying times.
Taking its turn, Civil Society Organization Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) has raised fears that the prevalence of malnutrition in the country among children could worsen due to the devaluation of the Kwacha.
According to Gausi, devaluation is coming after people were hardly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and natural disasters that also affected nutrition initiatives in the country.
Gausi stressed that if measures are not put in place to deal with malnutrition in this period, the country will be shocked with a high rate of malnutrition levels in the future.
Sharing an extended version, NGO Coalition on Children’s Rights through its Executive Director Desmond Mhango said devaluation has caused more harm on children’s welfare hence violating their human rights.
Mhango was quick to point out that among others, effecting of devaluation of the kwacha will see more children spending their day and nights on the streets.
The pangs, stings and perils of devaluation on children and the youth will be further laid bare in our next chapter of this series.