Funding crunch forces WFP to halve food rations for refugees amidst worsening hunger in Malawi
LILONGWE –The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to cut assistance to more than 51,000 vulnerable refugees by 50 percent as hunger levels deepen at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi.
The refugees, who are mainly from the Great Lakes region, receive monthly WFP cash assistance at the camp - where they face several challenges, including insufficient shelter and inadequate health, water, and sanitation services.
The assistance provided was designed to meet the minimum recommended energy needs of 2,100 kilocalories. However, due to chronic funding shortfalls, WFP has been forced to provide reduced rations since 2020. With severe funding challenges persisting, WFP has no choice but to reduce assistance further, potentially leaving thousands of refugees struggling to meet their nutritional needs.
As a result, refugees will now receive a cash allowance of US$ 5.90 (MK 6,300) per person per month. Unfortunately, this amount is barely enough to cover an individual’s monthly food requirements. These food ration cuts come when hunger in Malawi is worsening.
WFP is appealing for US$6.3 million to reinstate the food rations to current levels until June 2024.
"We are worried that the reduction in food rations will exacerbate an already dire food security situation and increase hardships among refugees residing in Dzaleka camp," said Simon Denhere, the acting Country Director of WFP in Malawi. "These cuts will particularly affect the most vulnerable, including malnourished children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with underlying health conditions."
The overall state of food security and nutrition has been steadily deteriorating, primarily due to soaring food prices, a surge in the number of refugees entering the country, and the return of refugees to the camp under the Government's encampment policy.
The latest food security assessments, conducted in January, found that nine out of every ten refugees surveyed in the camp – an equivalent of 45,000 people - are food insecure and need urgent assistance. Over two decades, these refugees fled political instability and social unrest in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions. They have limited access to alternative sources of livelihood and largely depend on WFP food assistance.
# # #
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability, and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.
Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @WFP_Malawi, @wfp_SAfrica.