Hunger looms over Malawi

by Plan UK | Plan UK
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 09:37 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

NEARLY 1.5 million villagers are short of food in rural Malawi after severe weather disrupted harvests, reports Plan International.


Late and erratic rains, droughts and floods have all contributed, with the north of the East African country worst affected.


Many families are now down to one or two basic meals a day, instead of three, in a bid to ration what they have.


“Most households have given up breakfast as one way of saving the little food they have stocked,” says Plan’s country director in Malawi, Lilly Omondi.


“As such, their dietary intake has decreased below normal and this may result in increased cases of malnutrition in children under the age of five.”


Families could be short of food for up to five months while in one of the worst hit areas, villagers walked 12 miles to get food aid.


The government will provide 25,000 tonnes of maize for distribution after 30,000 tonnes of grain rotted in reserves earlier this year.


Aid workers for Plan have begun distributing maize, pulses and corn-soya blend to families in Mzimba and Kasungu.


High maize prices and families’ lack of assets after repeated shortages are worsening the situation.


“The number of people in need of assistance is likely to increase as people’s livelihoods deteriorate influenced by negative coping strategies,” says Ms Omondi.


“Prices of most food have continued to rise driven by macroeconomic instability and high demand despite recent harvests.”


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