Food Brings Hope In Flooded Malawi

by World Food Programme | World Food Programme
Monday, 23 March 2015 12:59 GMT

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

In Malawi, WFP is providing food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered terrible loss as a result of unusually severe flooding. To Esnart Thomu and her family, the WFP rations are a life-line as they begin to rebuild their lives.

"You may not know what this day means to me,'' said Esnart Thomu (68) after receiving a supply of maize, pulses and vegetable oil from the World Food Programme (WFP). "It has given me hope."  

She is one of the thousands of people whose homes and crops were damaged by floods earlier this year.

Esnart, from Traditional Authority Mabuka in Mulanje district, is also grateful to an unknown boatman who helped her and others make it to the uplands. "I didn't have the energy to wade through the knee-deep waters," she said.

Esnart is a widow with an only child in his thirties who is disabled. She provides for both of them by growing maize, cassava, vegetables and sorghum. Around this time of the year the fields are normally green. But this is not the case. After the floods, where there should have been green maize fields lie instead barren land.

It is almost two months since the floods hit Esnart's village. As in other flood-affected districts, WFP continues to provide food assistance in Mulanje. For many flood affected people, WFP is the only source of food and nutrition. "I now sleep on a full stomach and wake up with the assurance that there is still food to keep me going. This food from WFP gives me hope that I will have energy to restart a normal life," says Esnart.

"The soil is now sandy and not suitable for most crops. Even if we plant other crops now we'll still need assistance between now and harvest time."

With contributions from the Government of Malawi, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, WFP has been providing life-saving emergency food assistance to flood affected people.

WFP is also working to transition the affected population out of crisis by helping them rebuild their lives. This early recovery work means WFP will provide opportunities such as community-based and household-based asset creation, complementary nutrition interventions and rehabilitation of small scale productive infrastructure as soon as the floodwater recedes.

Results of a recent joint food security assessment, conducted in February, indicate that about 616,000 people in 17 districts have been affected by recent floods and hail storms and therefore requiring food assistance between April and July 2015. This represents an increase of about 70 percent and includes two additional districts from the initial 15.

The assessment also recommended that WFP response to lean season food insecurity (MVAC), which is running concurrently to the floods response from December 2014 through March 2015, be extended by one month into April. Through this response, WFP is reaching approximately 438,000 of the most vulnerable people with food or cash-based assistance to meet their food security needs.

To meet the rapidly rising food needs in Malawi, WFP requires a total of approximately US$ 12.4 million.