School feeding programme in Malawi. Credit: WFP
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated US$3.2 million to UN agencies and humanitarian partners to help nearly 2 million people who are facing food insecurity in Malawi. Chronic poverty, dry weather, poor harvests and rising food prices have led to widespread food insecurity across the central and southern parts of the country.
The situation has deteriorated and the number of people needing help has increased in some areas due to consecutive poor harvests over the past four years. More than 300,000 children have been affected by the crisis; nearly 50 per cent of children under five are likely to have their growth stunted by malnutrition.
“These funds are critical in supporting the humanitarian community’s response to food insecurity in Malawi,” said Dr. Felicitas Zawaira, UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi. “In particular, they will be used to alleviate malnutrition in children, ensure the protection of the most vulnerable, and help farmers to mitigate the risks of a further deterioration in the situation.”
More than half of the funding will help UNICEF
manage acute malnutrition through treatment and therapeutic feeding programmes. UNICEF has warned that the food shortage is exposing people, especially women and children, to violence, exploitation, neglect and separation from their families. The agency will also use the funds to monitor human rights violations and access to humanitarian aid, and to provide psychosocial support to children.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization
received $1.4 million of the funding to provide agricultural tools and support to farmers. It will promote sustainable practices though conservation, crop diversification and small-scale irrigation. About 85 per cent of Malawians depend on agriculture, most of them subsistence farmers who cultivate small plots of land and are especially vulnerable to drought and heavy rainfall.