Massive food aid for Malawi

from Save the Children
Published on 14 May 2002
Save the Children UK has begun giving food to hundreds of thousands of people in need in famine-stricken Malawi. This is the second phase of the largest such food distribution programme by any aid agency during the current crisis.
In May more than 210,000 people in Salima district will receive a two month supply of grain and beans. This follows a similar distribution to 275,000 people in Mchinji district in March. In addition, more than 7,200 infants, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers in both districts are being provided with supplementary food.

Save the Children (UK) Malawi Programme Director Lizzie Nkosi said:

"This is one of the largest emergency distributions of food aid by Save the Children UK in recent years but it will still only feed a small percentage of those in need. The famine in Southern Africa is a massive problem that requires a massive and immediate response."

Save the Children's food aid distribution has been funded by DFID* in response to the severe food shortages that are believed to be affecting up to six million people in Malawi - more than half of the total population. The shortage results from poor harvests due to floods followed by dry weather, coupled with the mismanagement of the national grain reserve.

This year's limited harvest is expected to provide only temporary relief for the better-off and large gifts of food through the World Food Programme and USAID* are not expected to arrive until much later in the year. So far the European Union - another major donor - has made only a minimal response.

The best available estimates suggest that Malawi needs 600,000 metric tons of grain above what it has produced itself and that without such assistance starvation will remain a real threat for millions of people until at least the next harvest in March 2003.

The food crisis is also affecting several other nations in Southern Africa, most notably Zambia and Zimbabwe. Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique are also facing severe food shortages.

An eight-page briefing document on the regional food crisis is available on request from the Save the Children UK media office.

Media Contacts:

Brendan Paddy - 020 7716 2281 (London)
Erica Boardman - 07900 826 574 (Lilongwe, Malawi)

Notes to Editors:

DFID - UK Department for International Development
USAID - US Agency for International Development.