Floods, disasters and dry spells that hit Malawi’s lowershire districts such as Chikwawa, Nsanje, Mwanza and others between 2014 and 2016 are still being felt.
Challenges are many, but the most outstanding one is lack of food to feed families and their children.
This is why a leading humanitarian organisation called Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has intensified a multimillion kwacha school feeding programme in Mwanza and Chikwawa, districts where floods, dry spells and other disasters are said to be perennial.
The project is being funded by a Consortium of Danish Red Cross, Icelandic Red Cross, Finish Red Cross and Italian Red Cross after realizing the need that most children were not willing to attend lessons due to lack hunger.
MRCS communications manager Felix Washon told a group of international journalists from BBC and DW, who toured the programme this week that the project is meant to improve school enrolment, reduce absenteeism and cases of dropout rates.
“The 0verall objective of the school feeding project is to mitigate the effect of the recent drought for food insecure children in two districts in Southern Malawi,” he said.
Washon alluded that the immediate objective is to see to it that 12 000 children in seven selected pre-schools and eight primary schools in Mwanza and Chikwawa districts are provided with on-site Corn Soya Blend (CSB) and sugar for nine months.
During the media tour, it was discovered that Malawi Red Cross through the project is providing corn soya blend (SCB), sugar, cooking utensils and hygiene promotion activities in the targeted Schools.
Washon said: “Apart from meeting the nutrition needs of the learners the project will also contribute toward reduced school drop-outs.”
Malawi Red Cross Society is implementing a similar project is also being carried out in Salima with financial support from the Swiss Red Cross apart from embarking on the food distribution in Mangochi to 52,000 families with support from WFP and Danish Red Cross.
Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) Report for 2016/2017 growing season shows that an estimated number of 6.5 million people, or 39 percent of the country’s projected population of 16.8 million, have not met their annual food requirements during the 2016/17 harvesting period.
According to the MVAC report, this represents an increase of 129% compared with the corresponding figure of 2.8 million people for the 2015/16 consumption period.
For the affected people to survive up to the next harvesting period, the total humanitarian food assistance is valued at the equivalent of 493,000 metric tons of maize, with an estimated cash value of MK148 billion.
Currently, Malawi Red Cross Society has a number of activities supported by different PNs. One of the districts where MRCS is supporting hunger stricken communities is Chikwawa where Netherlands Red Cross and IFRC are funding the Cash transfer Project.