ACT appeal Malawi: Food relief to hunger victims - AFMW-21

Originally published


Appeal Target: US$ 1,064,528
Geneva, 11 March 2002

Dear Colleagues,

The food shortage problems in Malawi have reached very high proportions with thousands of children sliding into severe malnutrition. The rural areas where the majority of people are dependent on subsistence agriculture have been the most affected. As is always the case, women and children are at the worst end of the food crisis. The government handling of the food situation could have been better. Efforts to bring food from South Africa have been frustrated by serious regional transportation problems, coupled with the inefficient way the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) has been handling the maize sales.

ACT members, Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) and the Evangelical Lutheran Development Programme (ELDP) have described the food shortage as a serious crisis needing urgent response from the international community. They point out that most people in the rural areas do not have adequate income to purchase the little food available on the market - this has forced many households to stay without food for long periods of time. Some families have tried to survive on wild fruits and roots and at times, that has led to deaths as some fruits are poisonous and, in their desperation, some people do not realise this.

Another common commodity people resort to is maize bran. Because of this many people, especially the children have become malnourished.

ELDP and CARD propose to respond to this crisis by distributing food in Nsanje, Salima (CARD) and Karanga, Photombe and Chikwawa (ELDP). In total the members will distribute maize to approximately 37,500 families in the above mentioned districts. They also plan to distribute a highly nutritious food mix called Likuni Phala to about 17,000 malnourished under-five children.

Project Completion Date: 30 June 2002

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

Total Target US$
Total Appeal Target/s
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.

ACT Web Site address:

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



Malawi is a small landlocked country in the southern Africa region sharing borders with Tanzania to the north, Zambia to the west and Mozambique to the south and east.

Administratively, Malawi is subdivided into three regions: North, Centre and South. The North has six districts, while the Centre and South have nine and twelve districts respectively. Over 80% of the country’s population depends on agriculture either directly or indirectly with about 37% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product coming from agriculture.

The agriculture sub-sector in the country is dependent on natural rainfall with rainfall normally starting in October /November and finishes in April. This is what is usually known as the cropping season for Malawi.

The 2000/2001 Cropping Season in Malawi

During the year 2001 the country experienced heavy rainfall which resulted into flooding and water logging in some parts of the country. By February 2001, 15 of the 27 districts had been affected by floods and/or cyclone disasters, which consequently had a negative effect on crop production.

The Government of Malawi declared the country to be in state of disaster in February 2001. Floods swept away crops, livestock, houses and people’s property. In some areas continuous rains prevented people from doing their farm operations such as weeding or application of fertilizers which led to poor crop yields in most fields. Most farmers did not harvest adequate food to take them to the next harvest time.

Current Situation

The food shortage in the country has reached crisis levels. The past 6 months or so the Government of Malawi has been talking of making maize for food (imported from South Africa) available on the market. The transportation of this maize into Malawi has been problematic and most selling points do not have the maize. In some Agricultural Development and Marketing Co-operation selling points people have been waiting in long queues for hours. Furthermore, most of the people in the rural areas do not have adequate income to enable them purchase food items. Consequently, many households have had to go without food. Others have survived on maize bran, a commodity that is usually given to livestock.

Women and children are the most vulnerable groups because, in some cultural set-ups, women and children are the last to receive food after the men have had their share.

In some parts of Salima, farming families have had their crops washed away again by floods due to heavy rains in January 2002. This has aggravated the food shortage situation.

The Government of Malawi sent a SOS message to donor partners and all parties of good will to come to the assistance of people in the country especially those in rural areas.

CARD and ELDP monitoring of the situation indicates that the period between March to June will be very crucial in that most of small holder farmers in rural areas will neither have food nor cash to buy any. The harvest period in Malawi normally starts from the period May to June. It is feared most people will harvest their crops prematurely, a factor which may perpetuate food shortage in the country.

Impact of Floods and Food Shortage

The food crisis and the flooding in the country has affected various sectors as shown below:

Agricultural production - People queuing for long periods and robbing the agricultural sector of valuable time for farm operations
- Inadequate food has meant insufficient energy for farm operations
- Destruction of standing crops by floods
- Unattended crops resulting in low yields
- Low yields will result in food insecurity
- People, especially women have no food to give to their children which has resulted in malnutrition - especially the under-fives
Human settlement, food and shelter
Communication and transport system breakdown
- Floods have washed away crops and houses especially in Salima
- People are staying away from the flooded areas
- Flooding has washed away some road networks
- Perpetuated food insecurity and dependency on handouts
- This has made travelling and transportation of essential commodities difficult
Social life of the people Movement of people in search for food elsewhere May increase cases of robbery and insecurity
Health and nutrition - Malnutrition of children especially the under-fives
- Increased cases of deaths
- Fear of disease outbreaks
May result in stunted growth of children which will have a long term adverse effect on the nation
Education - School children refusing to go to school because of hunger Will reduce academic performance of pupils at school

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.

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