(Xinhua) -- The World Food Programme (WFP)
has begun the largest emergency food relief operation in Malawi
where as many as 6.5 million people—nearly 40 per cent of the
population—may require emergency assistance in coming months, a
UN spokesman told reporters here Wednesday.
This is a
new round of operations in Malawi and "this is set to become the
largest ever emergency food relief operation in the country’s
history," Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily
news briefing here.
"The food security crisis in the country is not only due to
this year’s unprecedented drought but to the impact of severe
flooding and prolonged dry spells last year," Haq said.
Malawi is one of the countries in southern Africa worst
affected by El Nino-related drought.
Across southern Africa, as many as 18 million people will
require emergency assistance in El Nino affected countries
between now and March, with needs peaking in January.
Of these, WFP is planning to reach 11.9 million people with
Malawi is one of half a dozen nations in the region which has
declared drought-related disasters in recent months.
Malawi’s already strained food security situation is
worsening following the most recent harvest which suffered
widespread failure, particularly in the south.
Some 80 percent of the affected people are smallholder
farmers who rely on what they can produce to feed themselves and
This is a country with high levels of stunting—low growth for
age—as a result of malnutrition, as well as high rates of
HIV/AIDS infections and related deaths which have left many
orphans and child-headed households.
"This is a dire situation, one that the world needs to take
notice of right now before it’s too late," said WFP Executive
Director Ertharin Cousin who Tuesday concluded a three-day visit
"I’ve talked with women in rural areas who told me they have
enough food for just a few more weeks, after which they will
have nothing," Cousin said.
"We must urgently assist the people of Malawi and those
affected by the drought in neighbouring countries, before food
insecurity spirals into hunger and starvation."
WFP concluded its last round of food and cash-based relief in
Malawi in April.
Seasonal relief for the poorest and most vulnerable is
normally offered between January and March at the height of the
lean season—that period preceding the harvest during which
domestic food stocks become increasingly depleted.
Following floods and drought last year, WFP responded to
needs during the last lean season as early as October.
This year, however, emergency relief is starting now—that is
because the lean season has already begun in many districts or
is soon to start in others.
The number of people currently in need in Malawi is two and a
half times higher than last year, already a bad year, the UN
WFP’s regional funding requirements for the most
drought-affected countries from now until April next year is 535
million U.S. dollars; 217 million U.S. dollars of this is
required to cover Malawi’s needs alone.
There is a particularly urgent need for funding for Malawi to
ensure that food stocks can be procured, transported and
pre-positioned before seasonal rains start in November, making
many roads in remote areas impassable, WFP said.
United Nations says 6.5
million people in Malawi need urgent food aid
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
Some 6.5 million people in Malawi, or 40 percent
of the country’s population,need urgent humanitarian assistance
due to the devastating impact of El Nino, the deputy UN
spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here Tuesday.
Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the World Food
Programme (WFP), is in Malawi this week to see for herself the
impact of the devastating El Nino-induced drought and to appeal
for urgent food assistance, Haq said at a daily news briefing
He also added that an estimated 18 million people in the
region’s hardest hit countries—Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique,
Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi—need emergency food
However, the UN food agency has only secured about a quarter
of the 549 million U.S. dollars needed for the assistance, he
El Nino—which means the Little Boy in Spanish—and its sister
La Nina—the Little Girl—are weather events, which contribute to
changes in climate and weather.