World Food Programme (WFP) says it is increasing investment in productive asset creation and value chain and livelihood support ahead of what is likely to be another hard lean season for 2016/17 in Malawi.
The global food agency said it is doing that by linking up with recovery and resilience-building investments to make the most of the post-harvest period (May to October).
The activities are being done considering that this is the last month of the response programme the agency rolled out in October last year following an appeal made by President Peter Mutharika for assistance to 2.8 million Malawians facing hunger due to floods and erratic rains experienced last year.
“WFP is planning to scale up productive asset creation activities and its innovative and climate-sensitive planning tools in additional disaster prone districts to inform a mixture of conditional and unconditional cash and food transfers post-April 2016, depending on market functionality and needs of different affected groups.
“This is in close coordination with other social support and protection programmes, including the irrigation planning of the Ministry of Agriculture, FAO, Unicef, UNDP and NGO [non-governmental organisation] partners, as part of wider efforts to break the cycle of food and nutrition insecurity in Malawi,” said WFP country representative Coco Ushiyama in an e-mailed response to a questionnaire.
She said WFP recognises that resilience is a multi-year and multi-sector investment, therefore, the immediate period will focus on high impact and low tech quick-wins to boost food and nutrition security and reduce disaster risk, also considering the potential upcoming effects of La Nina at the end of 2016.
Speaking on the challenges faced in the soon-to-be rolled out programme, Ushiyama said late funding has been the main challenge, a development which has resulted in the inability to deliver full rations of some commodities during some months of the response.
She said: “The dry spells and low water levels also affected production capacity of local and regional suppliers of super cereal, a fortified corn soya blend given to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of two to prevent micro-nutrient deficiencies. Access to some areas due to poor roads and localised heavy rains has also been a challenge.”
Based on the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) assessment, WFP’s food and cash assistance is targeting 2.4 million people (1.96 million being assisted with food and 431 000 cash transfers.
Food distributions started on time on October 1 2015.