ACT appeal Malawi: Food relief - AFMW-22

Originally published


Appeal Target: US$ 4,898,832
Geneva, 19 July 2002

Dear Colleagues,

The food crisis facing several countries in Southern Africa is entering a critical stage where the number of people without food is increasing dramatically. The little food that some of the peasant families harvested from the last cropping season has started to run out and these have to join the already millions of people surviving on relief food from the international community. So far, it has been indicated that over 13 million people in the region will face starvation if efforts by the international community to provide more relief assistance are not enhanced. Malawi is the worst affected country in the region with over 3.2 million people affected by the combined effects of reduced food availability and declining purchasing power. FAO and WFP have indicated that the Malawi government will need to import about 485,000 tonnes of food to avert starvation of the affected people.

The ACT alliance has been responding to the food needs in selected communities in the country since the month of March (ending this July) through the ACT appeal AFMW21. With the successful implementation of most relief food distribution programs in AFMW21, this new appeal is being issued to address further food needs in the hunger months running from August 2002 to March 2003. The next crop harvest is expected in April 2003.

In this appeal, the ACT members in Malawi agreed to form a co-ordination arrangement, with Dan Church Aid - Malawi office facilitating, to ensure a well co-ordinated ACT appeal and response. The final appeal proposal to ACT had therefore been discussed and agreed by the ACT members Church Action in Relief and Development (CARD), Evangelical Lutheran Development Program (ELDP) and the Norwegian Church Aid - Christian Health Association of Malawi (NCA - CHAM). However, the Church of Central African Presbyterian/Blantyre Synod (CCAP) is an exception. Their proposal had been submitted much earlier and therefore they could not participate in the co-ordinated/consolidated appeal, although their proposal forms part of this overall appeal.

This appeal focuses on the distribution of relief food and on nutrition and health programs. The agricultural seed programme does not form part of this appeal albeit ACT members CARD and ELDP will be involved in this programme through Christian Aid who has made a proposal and requested funding from the DFID outside the appeal.

Project Completion Date:

CARD - 31 March, 2003
CCAP - 31 March 2003
ELDP - 30 April 2003
NCA/CHAM - 31 March,2003

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

Total Targets US$
Appeal Targets
Less: Pledges/Contr Recd
Balance Requested from ACT Network

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
PO Box 2600
1211 Geneva 2

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

For further information: ACT Web Site address:

Ms. Geneviève Jacques
WCC/Cluster on Relations
Thor-Arne Prois
Robert Granke
LWF/World Service

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


FAO/ WFP carried out a Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Malawi in April/May 2002, their Special Report is dated 29 May 2002 and includes a very thorough analysis of the food crisis in Malawi. Main findings and estimates are:

  • Maize production 2002 is estimated to be 10% below last year's poor harvest, i.e. 1.54 to 1.6 million tonnes
  • Import requirement in Malawi will be 485,000 tonnes
  • More than 200,000 tonnes will need to be covered by the Government and external assistance
  • Approximately 3.2 million people will require food aid in 2002/03: 500,000 people from June to August, 2.1 million up to November, and 3.2 million people up to March

The following description of the Emergency Situation is mainly taken from FAO/ WFP's report.

The entire report is available on the FAO Web Site:

Search for: Special Report: FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Malawi.

The Implementing Agencies' proposals have also been used as well as other sources of information such as monthly news updates, studies and minutes from meetings providing up to date information on the emergency situation. Among the major documents and studies used we can quote:

  • FEWS Network (USAID Famine Early Warning System Network).
  • "The Malawi Famine of 2002. Causes, Consequences & Policy Lessons", IDS, May 2002.
  • "Final Report. Malawi Food Crisis. An HEA Vulnerability Assessment", Save the Children UK, April-May 2002.
  • "Thyolo and Mulanje Districts. Nutrition Surveys", Oxfam, March 2002.


A number of factors pointed to a developing food crisis in Malawi: a poor harvest in 2000/01, very low levels of maize stocks, rapidly rising food prices, a generally late start to the planting rains for the 2001/02 season, flooding in several districts and a dry spell early in 2002,. This prompted the Government to declare a state of national disaster at the end of February, and to request FAO and WFP to carry out an assessment of the food situation in the country. Accordingly, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Malawi from 21 April to 11 May 2002.

With virtually no carryover stocks, and a forecast maize harvest of only 1.54 million tonnes, the national maize requirement of about 1.72 million tonnes for human consumption alone (based on the average historic rate of consumption of about 151 kg/caput/annum) will not be fully met internally. Taking total utilisation requirements (including seed, feed, losses, etc.) of all cereals, the country faces an import requirement of about 485,000 tonnes.

Malawi's production of roots and tubers has increased significantly in recent years, as has the acceptance of these crops as an important contributor to household food security. These crops will contribute to reducing the cereal deficit.

Commercial cereal imports are forecast at 277, 000 MT and food aid at 207, 687 MT for an estimated 3.2 million people affected by the combined effects of reduced food availability and declining purchasing power.

A last crop assessment (third round) released by the Government of Malawi estimated the maize harvest at 1,603,271 Mt mid-June. These figures are slightly higher than the FAO/ WFP estimate with a difference of 63,279 Mt. However, this last assessment confirms the reality of the alarming food shortage in the country.

For the purpose of calculating national food requirements, the FAO/WFP Mission has used the Government's population figure of 11,44 million.

Current response and set-up at national level:

Earlier this year, the government, in conjunction with its co-operation partners, established a Joint Emergency Food Aid Programme (JEFAP) to provide assistance to the affected people starting from June 2002. At national level, the government has the responsibility of overseeing all aspects of the JEFAP. At district level, the Government, through District Commissioners, has the responsibility of co-ordinating the programme and facilitating, with WFP and NGOs, the selection process of beneficiaries, food aid deliveries and distribution.

WFP has the responsibility for the overall implementation of the JEFAP and accountability to donors, including resourcing and transportation of food commodities in the country to warehouses.

An NGO Consortium has been formed, comprising District Co-ordinating NGOs and Implementing NGOs. The District Co-ordinating NGOs are responsible for the implementation of the JEFAP in the districts and provide assistance, facilitation to the Implementing NGOs that are carrying out the distributions. The District Co-ordinating NGOs also supervise and monitor the distribution process.

Relief Committees are established at Traditional Authority (TA), Group Village Headman and Village Headman levels (each level corresponds to an administrative area). These committees facilitate the final selection of villages to be included in the distribution and define and register vulnerable groups in the selected villages.

WFP Recommended Phases for Food Assistance and Amounts

Percent of Population
No. of Beneficiaries
June through August
545 132
15 904
September through November
2 141 699
64 250
December through March 2003
3 188 337
127 533
Cumulative Totals
3 188 337
207 687

The phased approach to food aid distribution is predicated on the need to distribute only minimal required food aid in the early months and expand as the hungry seasons approach.

The vulnerability analysis agrees with the principle not to flood the market with free maize distributions to the point where it will disrupt incentive to grow maize in the future. With prices expected to reach levels of last year (up to 400 percent of what they were the previous year), however, there will still be incentive for farmers to grow maize for their own household consumption and/or sale.

The WFP is planning its relief intervention until March 2003, i.e. until the next harvest. However, the situation for a large portion of the population is so severe that WFP is envisaging a five-year period for the country to recover and reach a level of self-sufficiency and food security. The current emergency phase will therefore be followed by long-term rehabilitation work.

WFP has taken on the task of trying to secure the bulk of the Food Aid - including prioritised Supplementary Food Items. At the time of writing, it seems unlikely that the global food requirements will be met. The targeting process established by WFP is likely to leave pockets or "hot spots" of population not reached by the distributions. Through a close collaboration with the national set-up at District level and based on their knowledge of their areas of intervention, the Implementing Agencies are proposing to identify these people in need and to assist them.

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