BLANTYRE--The World Food Programme (WFP), a technical agency of the United Nations (UN), said on Tuesday it will require food valued at $48 million to feed about 11 percent of Malawi’s population affected by hunger due to food shortages and crop failure.
“It is estimated that those needing food assistance in the southern African country will rise to 1.6 million people during the peak of the lean season early next year,” the WFP said in a joint statement with Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Britain is the first donor to bankroll the programme with $4.7 million.
Abdoulaye Diop, country director for WFP, said he hoped “other donors will follow the example” of Britain to chip in.
The government of Malawi has pledged 25,000 metric tonnes of maize, Diop said.
Sarah Sanyahumbi, head of DFID in Malawi, said: “We are conscious that many people are struggling due to the poor harvest and high prices in some parts of the country and are committed to supporting the government’s efforts to ensure no-one goes hungry.”
Food shortage in Malawi has been blamed on prolonged dry spells, high food prices and economic difficulties. Half of the population of 13 million live below the poverty line and earn less than a dollar a day.
A study conducted by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, which comprises several government departments, the United Nations, embassies and humanitarian agencies, showed that 1.6 million will be “food insecure” during the lean season between December and March.
Only 200,000 people required food aid last year.
The committee, which recommended a “swift response” to the problem, reported that fifteen districts in the centre and south of the country were affected.
Malawi had had a good food security record in recent years after late president Bingu wa Mutharika implemented an expensive subsidy programme giving poor villagers access to fertiliser.
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