A life-saving feeding programme
At the health centre, Konja was immediately admitted to a feeding programme, where she has been receiving ready-to-use therapeutic food. This is food that can be eaten straightaway and doesn’t need to be mixed with water. Although the therapeutic food is working, it’s a short-term solution and the food situation at her home is desperate. “We are surviving on water lilies,” said Jolita. “We can’t afford to buy maize on the market every day.”
Since maize is out of reach for Jolita’s family, she wakes up at 4am and walks over 25km with the other women from the village. This walk takes them through the crocodile-infested Shire River, where they collect water lilies and return late in the evening to prepare them for dinner.
“It’s scary. There are a lot of crocodiles in the river, but we don’t have a choice,” she said. “I cannot let my children and grandchildren die of hunger because of the crocodiles. I just have to be brave. The water lilies are scarce this year, and we don’t know what will happen once they finish.”
Jolita thinks back to when her husband was alive. “We have never had a case where any of our children was malnourished. We used to produce enough food but the past two years have been bad, maybe due to climate change.”