Malawi is among five countries in southern Africa to benefit from £7 million (about K7.2 billion) British Government relief fund targeting people affected by Covid-19 induced drop in financial remittances from South Africa.
The money, which will provide income relief to more than 8 000 families in Malawi, E-swatini formerly Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, was announced in a statement on Tuesday.
The financial support will also provide much-needed essential services and food assistance to almost 750 000 people, including 14 000 households and nearly half a million migrants who have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK Government acknowledged that southern Africa countries have been hard-hit by a prolonged drought and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has deepened food insecurity situation, with 18 million people in the region at risk of hunger for the remainder of this year.
In a statement, UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge said the action to support the flow of remittances will help those most vulnerable to the economic fallout of Covid-19 across southern Africa to access money to meet their immediate needs.
He said: “For many communities across southern Africa, the Covid-19 pandemic is not only a health emergency, it is also damaging livelihoods and exacerbating food shortages.
“The support the UK is providing will help families in crisis across Southern Africa, many of whom are female-led households, improving access to Covid-19 information and basic services and protecting livelihoods.”
The support will be provided through the FinMark Trust and its chief executive officer Brendan Pearce said families across southern Africa rely heavily on remittances.
Among such families, he said the economic fallout of Covid-19 has hit the vulnerable hard, especially women and children.
“The Southern Africa Covid-19 Remittance Relief Fund has been established to bring much-needed support to these communities,” he said.
The statement said specific to Malawi, the implementing partners are International Organisation for Migration (IoM) and Finmark Trust.
Estimates indicate that there are up to 3.7 million migrants from southern African countries living in South Africa, sending R21.9 billion (K1.1 billion) annually to family members back home.
An average of £15 (about K15 000) per month will be provided to families affected by lost income from remittances, helping people meet immediate needs like food, rent and school fees. The UK is anchoring the FinMark Trust fund with £500 000 (about K500 million) in two tranches.