Almost 3 million people are in danger of facing hunger and severe shortage of food supply in Malawi in southeast Africa over the next couple of months, the Christian Aid reported on September 30, 2015, as the country faces its most severe food crisis in the last 10 years.
Malawi is facing the most severe food crisis in a decade, as a result of drought, late and sporadic rains and severe floods that devastated homes, farm lands and crops across the southern regions earlier this year.
The state of Malawi is one of the world's poorest and most densely populated regions in Africa. Its main food sources rely on agriculture, which accounts for over a third of the country's GDP. Due to severe floods that have affected the population of 630 000 people in January 2015, a large number of households have lost their food reserves.
The threat of hunger and severe food shortage could leave potentially devastating impacts on the country's most vulnerable communities, Christian Aid warns.
“The situation is grave. Crops have suffered and food prices are rising: for instance, the production of maize – Malawi’s staple food – has dropped by 30% in the past year, while maize prices have already risen by between 50% and 100%. This combination of factors has created the country’s first national food deficit in 10 years," Christian Aid’s Programme Manager for Malawi, Howard Nkhoma, based in the capital Lilongwe, said.
Peter Mutharika, the State President of the Republic of Malawi appealed to governments, donors and non-governmental organizations to provide aid for more than 2 800 000 people currently experiencing food shortage. Tens of millions of dollars are urgently required to provide food assistance to households currently at risk.
“Christian Aid is greatly concerned about people’s capacity to cope with this crisis. Malawi already has high rates of chronic and acute malnutrition, which will get even worse as people living in poverty see their food stocks dwindling. We are also worried about the impact on people living with HIV, who need good nourishment in order for their anti-retroviral treatment to work properly," Mr. Nkhoma added.
According to Christian Aid estimates, the households in Phalombe, Nsanje and Chikwawa districts are particularly at risk of finding themselves in life-threatening situations induced by the lack of food supplies. Households at risk need urgent help in getting basic food and nutrition.
“Christian Aid partners are taking part in recovery work in some communities. Christian Aid has been actively involved in the planning processes for the national response with the World Food Programme and the Government, who have been mobilizing resources to provide food aid and cash transfers to affected households.”
Mr Nkhoma continued: “The country still has a funding gap of over US$ 130m. More funds are desperately needed, so that the worst-affected communities are given proper support to bridge the food-deficit gap and to ensure that women, children and men do not go hungry.
“For Christian Aid, our greatest priorities are breastfeeding mothers in poverty, children under five, people living with HIV on anti-retroviral treatment, and women-headed households.”
Christian Aid partners have worked in the country’s rural southern communities for several years, helping families to develop and diversify their farming methods, and supporting them to build their resilience to future climate-related disasters.
Featured image: Food My Starving Children (FMSC) image, November 2, 2011. Image credit: FMSC (Flickr - CC)