The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an emergency food relief operation that has been described as the largest operation the United Nations (UN) agency has ever undertaken in Malawi.
Announcing this at the end of a three-day visit to Malawi, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said as many as 6.5 million people – nearly 40 percent of the country’s population – may require emergency assistance in coming months.
“I’ve talked with women in rural areas who told me they have enough food for just a few more weeks.
“WFP must urgently assist the people of Malawi and those affected by the drought in neighbouring countries before food insecurity spirals into hunger and starvation,” said Cousin.
She added that Malawi is one of the countries in Southern Africa worst affected by El Niño-related drought.
“Its food security crisis is not only due to this year’s unprecedented drought but to the impact of severe flooding and prolonged dry spells last year,” she said.
WFP concluded its last round of food and cash-based relief in Malawi in April this year.
Meanwhile the UN agency says it will need $217 million in order to produce, transport and preposition food stocks in Malawi where 80 percent of people affected by hunger are smallholder farmers.