WFP Malawi Country Brief, November 2016

Report
from World Food Programme
Published on 30 Nov 2016

Highlights

  • WFP scaled up food and cash distributions to food insecure populations for the fifth month (November) of the nine month operation (July ‘16 – Mar ‘17). Due to resource constraints, only half rations of all non-cereal food commodities continue to be distributed. WFP still urgently needs USD 30.5 million to scale-up assistance to the required levels to meet the most vulnerable people’s food needs during the peak of the hunger season (Jan-Mar).

  • Despite the reduced rations, relief assistance has provided some alleviation to the acute food insecurity situation with data showing that people are for the first time in three months reducing negative coping strategies.

  • During this unprecedented period of food-insecurity, WFP is also scaling up safety nets (like school meals) and expanding nutrition support to people living with HIV.

Operational Updates

  • WFP and partners have provided lifesaving food assistance to 83 percent of targeted food-insecure households for November, equivalent to 4.2 million people as of early December, with distributions continuing for the remaining targeted households. This is the fifth month of the relief response to El Niño-induced food insecurity, which began in July 2016. The response is being roll-out in a phased approach – with the hardest-hit districts receiving assistance first and the peak response being from January-March 2017. Continued humanitarian assistance has shown an improvement in food security as seen through the reduction of negative coping strategies, according to mVAM – however, incidences of malnutrition remain notably higher compared to last year. Meanwhile, WFP is racing to preposition 35,000 mt of food in areas that are at-risk of being cut off during the current rainy season.

  • In November, the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) released the results of an updated assessment that found an additional 200,267 people in need of assistance. This brings the total affected population to an alarming 6.7 million people from January across 24 districts. The MVAC also recommended a reduction in people slated to receive cash-based transfers, as assumptions about maize market functionality have not held. Out of the 6.7 million, WFP will target 6 million through in-kind food (5.3 million) and through a hybrid modality of a voucher for maize, in partnership with the private sector, paired with cash for the non-maize commodities (approx. 700,000). INGO partners continue to target the remaining 700,000 people in need of assistance.

  • As part of the relief response, WFP continues to scale up productive asset creation to complement relief assistance. So far, some 115,000 households (i.e. 632,000 people) have received this complementary support across eight priority districts. This work is in addition to WFP’s multi-year resilience-building programme which provides food assistance for assets (FFA) to70,000 people.

  • With the aim of protecting gains in nutrition and HIV-related mortality during this period of unprecedented food insecurity, WFP and the Ministry of Health are scaling up treatment to malnourished adolescents and adults living with HIV who are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). While WFP has previously provided fortified blended food to treat moderate acute malnutrition amongst this population, assistance has now expanded to include severe acute malnutrition – which had been a gap in Malawi since 2010.

  • November marked the first distributions of emergency school meals to 63,000 children in four districts in southern Malawi. While this emergency support is funded, WFP is facing an imminent funding gap of USD 3 million for its usual school meals programme. Funding is urgently needed to avoid forced reduction or even suspension during the peak lean season.

Challenges

  • Funding shortages, especially for non-maize commodities and cash-based transfers, for the ongoing emergency response remains highly concerning as the peak response period (January-March) nears. Shortfalls come on top of ongoing ration reduction for all non-maize commodities, greatly undermining the overall impact of assistance.