UN seeks additional funds to feed Malawians threatened by floods
Over 1 million Malawians are threatened by food shortages over the next three months as weather forecasts predict an enhanced likelihood of flooding in the southern African country, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned.
“Consequently, women and children under five will become more exposed to malnutrition and infections as well as to abuse and exploitation,” UNICEF said in its latest update on the situation, highlighting its efforts to step up feeding for severely malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women, and prevent cholera and other water-borne diseases.
The UN Country Team recently submitted a request for $5.5 million in emergency UN relief aid, and UNICEF is seeking an additional $2.5 to meet the immediate and medium-term needs of children and women throughout the affected areas for the coming five months.
Some 200,000 women and children under five will need humanitarian assistance in 2008 and the agency called for the two mutually reinforcing causes of insecurity – a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and chronic poverty – to be addressed in tandem with food aid.
Floods have already displaced tens of thousands of people in neighbouring Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia and the main commercial corridor from central Mozambique to landlocked Malawi has been cut, causing delays in the transportation of food and fuel and leading to a shortage of petrol.
Cholera remains a major threat in Malawi with recurrent outbreaks during the rainy season from November to April and is a major risk factor in flooding due to the possible breakdown of water and sanitation facilities.
Food shortages and malnutrition have a direct effect on individual susceptibility to diseases and thus the level of a possible epidemic will be directly related to people’s access to food and safe water, UNICEF warned.