Malawi 2005 Flash Appeal

30 August 2005

This is not a typical United Nations (UN) Flash Appeal. It is a ‘smart Appeal’, requesting international support for the Government of Malawi’s (GoM) leadership in addressing both immediate humanitarian needs, and to allow the Government to take action now to minimise the likelihood of another food-shortage driven humanitarian crisis next year.

The Appeal provides an opportunity for the international community to make a reality of the G8’s Gleneagles Declaration and of renewed determination to support responsible national approaches by African countries to fighting hunger and disease and escaping the poverty trap.  It is issued on the heels of the UN Secretary-General’s letter[1]to the Heads of State of donor countries urging them to prevent a humanitarian crisis in southern Africa.

This unprecedented two-track approach addresses the immediate food needs from now until the next harvest in March 2006, as well as the imminent risk to next year’s harvest itself.  The GoM is providing leadership on both tracks – first by committing its limited budgetary resources to an emergency assistance programme to meet immediate needs, and second by purchasing seed and fertiliser for targeted distribution to small-holder maize farmers at heavily subsidised rates.  The President has also launched a national ‘Feed the Nation Fund’ on the grounds that “when there is a national disaster, Malawians must first look into their own pockets”.

The first track of this Appeal requests donor support to help Malawi address the immediate food crisis. Approximately 4.2 million people will not be able to meet their minimum food requirementsfrom now until the next harvest in March 2006. Through food aid and other safety net schemes, development partners are already supporting a Government-led effort to ensure that the affected population, particularly the very vulnerable, can cope.  However, there remains a serious shortfall. Not meeting this shortfall will result in profound humanitarian consequences for individuals, households and communities.  This Appeal therefore seeks support for a multi-sector approach including food aid, nutrition, health, protection against sexual and economic exploitation, and HIV/AIDS initiatives.

The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) estimates that at a minimum, the equivalent of some 270,000 metric tonnes (MTs) of maize is required.  The estimates represent the minimum humanitarian need from now until March 2006.  The situation could worsen over the coming months. The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to provide assistance to 2.0 million vulnerable people in seven districts in the Southern Region, as well as nutrition support in all districts.  The remaining 2.2 million people will be assisted through Government, other food distribution, and voucher schemes, and cash interventions.

The second track of the Appeal is intended to increase local production, thereby minimising the prospect of another food crisis next year.  Malawi’s impoverished farm households face conditions of pervasive soil nutrient deficiencies and lack access to critical farm inputs.  The result is that crop yields are chronically low and highly vulnerable to transitory shortfalls in rains during the growing season. The Appeal calls for immediate support to ensure that the Government’s plan to sell seed and fertiliser at subsidised rates is bolstered whereby the seed and fertiliser is made available to over one million poor farm households who cannot afford it even at subsidised rates. The Government is already leading a logistical operation to manage the targeted distribution of the subsidised seed and fertiliser; the same mechanism would be used to ensure that seed and fertiliser are made accessible to poorer farming households.  To support this programme in time for the upcoming growing season, the UN is seeking pledges from the international community by mid- September 2005.

By addressing the underlying causes of the food crisis as well as the immediate emergency needs, the Government’s programme lays the foundation for Malawi to achieve food security in the long-term.

The UN is appealing for a total net amount of approximately US$ 87.8 million for the Government’s two-pronged approach to Malawi’s food crisis.  This amount includes net US$ 51.3 million for providing food aid and a multi-sectoral emergency programme to meet immediate needs, and US$ 36.5 for ensuring access to emergency agricultural inputs for smallholder farmers for the October planting season. 

[1] 8 August 2005. For text, see Annex I.


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30 August 2005

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