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WFP appeals for urgent aid amid devastating drought, El Niño effects in Malawi

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has issued an urgent plea for resources to provide life-saving food assistance to 2 million people grappling with the dire consequences of a severe drought compounded by the effects of El Niño.

WFP in a statement says Malawi, a nation already reeling from the aftermath of tropical storms and cyclones in recent years, now faces an exacerbated crisis due to the El Niño phenomenon.

The UN agency further says the impact has been particularly devastating, pushing up to 40 percent of Malawi’s population into hunger, imperilling both lives and livelihoods.

“The El Niño impact is exacerbating the devastating effects of the ongoing climate crisis in Malawi. Prolonged dry spells have ravaged crops in the Southern and Central regions, while flooding has mercilessly swept away crops in the Northern Region.

“With national maize stocks dwindling, Malawi has been compelled to import essential commodities, driving food prices to alarming levels. Maize prices have nearly doubled within a single year and tripled compared to the five-year average.

Given that over 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture for their basic needs, the steep decline in staple crops—such as maize, rice, soya beans, cowpeas, and groundnuts—has plunged millions of people into dire circumstances,” reads the statement in part.

Paul Turnbull, WFP Country Director and Representative in Malawi, emphasized the gravity of the situation.

“The impact is huge, and so are the needs,” said Paul Turnbull, WFP Country Director and Representative in Malawi.

“We can avert a hunger catastrophe for the hardest hit families, but time is not on our side. I’m calling on the international community to step up now and help us save lives,” adds Turnbull.

On March 23, Malawi’s President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, declared a State of Disaster in 23 out of the country’s 28 districts affected by El Niño conditions.

WFP says preliminary assessments indicate that nearly 2 million farming households and 749,000 hectares—representing 44 percent of the national crop area—have borne the brunt of this crisis.

Consequently, the onset of the 2024/2025 lean season is anticipated to be earlier and more severe than usual.

WFP thus appeals for solidarity and swift intervention to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

 

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