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UK Provides Food And Cash For Malawi’s Vulnerable Families During Lean Season

LILONGWE – The United Kingdom has contributed US$22 million (MWK 8.4 billion) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to assist Malawian families who are unable to meet their basic food needs. This contribution will enable WFP to provide food assistance to some 910,000 people for several months of the ‘lean season’, between now and March when the next harvest is due.

Many households in Malawi do not have enough to eat as a result of a particularly poor harvest caused by bad weather. The high price of maize, the nation’s staple, is also placing pressure on food-insecure families. The full extent of the situation has recently been confirmed by an updated report from the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) which found that more than 1.85 million people will need food assistance between now and March 2014. This is a 27 percent increase on an earlier estimate of 1.46 million people. An additional three districts now require assistance.

WFP aims to scale up its relief operation progressively to reach most vulnerable people at the height of the lean season in January-March in all 24 affected districts.

“This contribution from the UK will enable us to provide both food and cash transfers,” says WFP Country Director Coco Ushiyama. “Such support is vital for families with little to harvest, few wage-earning options and who are struggling to buy food that is beyond their means.”
More than half of the UKaid funds will be used to buy commodities including maize, pulses and SuperCereal, a fortified corn soya blend that can be made into a nutritious porridge. About 20 percent of the funds will go towards assisting people through cash transfers in areas where market conditions allow.

“DFID is pleased that this UK contribution will help to ensure food security for over a million people during the critical lean period to March 2014,” says Head of DFID Malawi Sarah Sanyahumbi. “Our hope is that the food and cash distributions will not only alleviate hunger but will also help prevent poor families from having to resort to destructive coping mechanisms with long-term negative impacts on the family, natural resources and agriculture. We believe that if vulnerable people don’t have to worry about where their food is coming from, they can use their time and labour in their fields and break the vicious circle of food insecurity and poverty.”

As part of its Purchase for Progress initiative, WFP will use the UKaid funds where possible to buy food from local smallholder farmers who have not been affected by crop failure – and who will thus have an opportunity to connect with markets and boost their income.

Additionally, UK funds will provide protection and support to the most vulnerable (including young children and pregnant and nursing mothers) through school feeding and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition.

UKaid has also contributed US$ 3 million (MWK 1.1 billion) to ensure WFP school meals are provided for up to 800,000 students during the lean season and US$ 2 million (MWK .76 million) to expand treatment for malnutrition in food-insecure areas for up to 18,000 malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing women.

Since 2002, the United Kingdom has contributed more than US$70 million to WFP programmes in Malawi.

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For more information please contact:
Rachael Wilson, Reports Officer, WFP Malawi, Email:, Tel. +265 1 774 666
Andrew Massa, Programme Officer, UK Department for International Development, Email:, Tel. +265 1 772 657

About the World Food Programme:
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.

For more information about WFP in Malawi:

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About the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UKaid):

DFID is the Department for International Development, leading the British Government’s fight against world poverty. In Malawi we work to help alleviate poverty, support economic growth and encourage good governance.

For more information about DFID’s work in Malawi visit