More than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months in the worst food crisis in a decade in Malawi, where a staggering four out of every 10 children suffer from stunting, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.
“People in some affected districts have already started selling their livestock to make ends meet,” WFP said in a press release. “Women are also engaging in more firewood and charcoal selling, which degrades the environment and further aggravates the fragile climate.”
“The agency said more than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months following severe floods and drought that ruined this year’s harvest.
“The floods early this year were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks, and ruining fertile land,” it said. “Some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for the most vulnerable.”
“Since the end of last year, WFP has provided relief assistance to avert hunger in households hit by poor rainfall during the 2013/14 growing season and the floods in early 2015. This operation has reached more than one million vulnerable people.
“WFP, which is financed entirely by voluntary contributions from governments, companies and private individuals, is less than 25 per cent funded for the $81 million relief operation that lies ahead.
“Additional contributions are urgently needed,” says WFP Representative for Malawi Coco Ushiyama.
WFP also said a swift response is imperative to save children’s lives and prevent worsening undernutrition, particularly stunting among children, which limits cognitive development, and has far-reaching effects on health and productivity over a lifetime.
“A recent Cost of Hunger in Africa report for Malawi estimated that stunting, which at 42 percent is among the highest in the region, costs the nation nearly $600 million annually,” the agency said.
“The WFP announcement comes a day after an appeal to the international humanitarian community made by the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika at the launch of the National Food Insecurity Response Plan on Monday.