The World Food Programme (WFP) has said it urgently requires $38 million (about K28.2 billion) to help about 2.4 million out of the about 3 million hunger stricken Malawians up to April this year.
Failure to source the funds, warned the United Nations arm in a stated on Wednesday, many result to suspension of cash contributions to affected families in March while food distributions could be drastically reduced or even discontinued by mid-April.
WFP and its partners have provided food and cash assistance since October 2015 to help alleviate the country’s worst food insecurity in a decade, reaching to some 2.4 million people with life-saving food and cash assistance in 24 of the country’s 28 districts.
The UN arm has extended its relief operation by an additional month, through April, after the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) reported that annual harvests will be delayed by El Niño-related drought across southern Africa. The extension requires additional resources.
In a statement on Wednesday, WFP’s Country Representative Coco Ushiyama said without additional contributions, cash distributions will have to be suspended in March, while food distributions will have to be drastically reduced or even discontinued by mid-April.
Said Ushiyama: “New contributions are urgently needed to ensure people get the assistance they need to make it through this period. Given the unusually high food prices in the country, WFP will also further explore regional and international food procurement options.”
Apart from the 2.4 million affected persons, Ushiyama said the operation is being scaled up this month to include an additional 32,000 people identified by MVAC as in need of food assistance.
WFP is providing a monthly household food ration that includes 50 kilograms (kg) of maize, 6kgs of pulses and 2 litres of fortified vegetable oil. In areas receiving cash-based assistance, a cash transfer equivalent to the prevailing market value of the monthly household food ration is provided.
According to the statement, the Government of Malawi recently announced a contribution of 18,000 metric tons of maize from its Strategic Grain Reserves to help meet needs. The contribution adds to the nearly 52,000 metric tons of maize which Lilongwe earlier contributed towards relief operations.