The United Kingdom has contributed US$22 million (K8.4 billion) to the United Nations World Food Programme to assist Malawian families who are unable to meet their basic food needs.
The contribution will enable WFP to provide food assistance to some 910 000 people for several months of the ‘lean season’ between now and March when the next harvest is due according to a press statement from UKaid and WFP dated December 6 2013.
“This contribution from the UK will enable us to provide both food and cash transfers,” says WFP Country Director Coco Ushiyama, “Such support is vital for families with little to harvest, few wage-earning option and who are struggling to buy food that is beyond their means.”
The statement says more than half of the UKaid funds will be used to buy commodities including maize, pulses and SuperCereal, a fortified corn soya blend that can be made into a nutritious porridge. It further says about 20 percent of the funds will go towards assisting people through cash transfers in areas where market conditions allow.
Many households in Malawi do not have enough to eat as a result of a particularly poor harvest caused by bad weather. The high price of maize is also placing pressure on food insecure families.
The statement says the full extent of the situation has recently been confirmed by an updated report from the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee which found that more than 1.85 million people will need food assistance between now and March 2014. This is a 27 percent increase on an earlier estimate of 1.46 million people.
“DFID is pleased that this UK contribution will help to ensure food security for over a million people during the critical lean period to March 2014,” says Sarah Sanyahumbi, Malawi’s Head of DFID.
She adds: “Our hope is that the food and cash distributions will not only alleviate hunger but will also help prevent poor families from having to resort to destructive coping mechanisms with long term negative impacts on the family, natural resources and agriculture. We believe that if vulnerable people don’t have t worry about where their food is coming from, they can use their time and labour in their fields and break the vicious circle of food insecurity and poverty.”