International Agencies Call for Urgent Action as Malawi Declares a Food Emergency

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Oxfam, Concern Universal, Concern Worldwide, Save the Children and GOAL today welcomed the Government of Malawi’s decision to declare an emergency in response to a further looming hunger in the country. They called on the Government, Malawi’s donors and the international community to immediately respond to this declaration by providing the necessary support to meet the scale of the food crisis.

 “The declaration of emergency is a welcome recognition of the severity of the situation in the country,” said John Makina, Oxfam in Malawi’s Country Director. “Ordinary Malawians should not have to go to bed hungry every night. All of us- government, NGOs and international donors- need to act now and for the rest of the year to ensure that everyone has access to the food they need to feed themselves and their families.”

President Peter Mutharika declared the emergency following a crop assessment process conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. This assessment indicates that maize production will be down by 12 percent from last year’s poor season or down by 33 percent from the previous five year average.

Photo Credit: Jonas Gratzer/Freelance Photographer

The significantly reduced harvest in 2015 was due to extensive flooding in parts of the country, and poor rains in other parts. At the end of 2015, 2.8 million people were facing hunger and food insecurity.  This year’s El Nino weather phenomenon, supercharged by climate change, has again left harvests decimated across the Southern Region in particular.  

This El Nino is a warning of what is likely to come. “Climate change will make weather events like drought more frequent. In the face of this- the new normal- we must work to support people to build their resilience against climate shocks and weather events like El Nino,” said Paul Armour, GOAL Malawi’s Country Director.

The impacts of this El Nino are likely to last until the next harvests in March 2017.

“It is imperative to protect lives in the short term but also to find ways of ensuring that people’s resilience to devastating drought is increased, such as through climate smart agriculture. Greater political accountability and transparency in the investment of funds for food security is also key,” said Concern Worldwide’s Country Director, Caoimhe Debarra.

Malawi is not alone in facing the consequences of El Nino. Much of Southern Africa has been affected, which has brought drought across large parts of the region, and in some areas, flooding. In March, SADC’s Council of Ministers endorsed a decision to declare a regional emergency in response to the drought.

 “Together with the government, we will do all we can to support ordinary Malawians,” said Matthew Pickard, Save the Children Country Director. “We need the immediate, swift and generous support of donors and international partners.   //END


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