WFP and WV launch food relief programme

Blantyre, 12 October: In the wake of the food crisis in several countries in Southern Africa, the World Food Programme (WFP) and World Vision Malawi launched the 2015/2016 food relief programme on 9 October 2015. The programme will provide aid to three million Malawians who are experiencing acute food shortage due to the combined effects of a flood and drought experienced in the last growing season.

The food distribution will be implemented by World Vision Malawi in Chikwawa and Mwanza, Neno, Chitipa and Mangochi districts, whichare amongst the 25 districts where the programme will be implemented. Under the response, each household is receiving a 50 kg bag of maize and two litres of cooking oil with pregnant mothers as well as those nursing children under the age of two receivingan extra 10kg of super cereal soya. In some areas, the programme will be effected through cash transfers whereby households are given money to buy food.

Speaking during the launchof the programme at Mthumba Primary School, in the area of Traditional Authority Kasisi in Chiwawa, Secretary and Commissioner for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), Bernard Sande, hailed WFP and WV for moving swiftly to assist communities affected by drought. DoDMA is a government department that oversees all disaster and response activities in Malawi.

Sande said the food situation in the country is the worst as it has affected the highest numbers of people estimated at about 2.83 million, according to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) report.

He called on all stakeholders in the programme implementation to ensure utmost transparency and accountability in the distribution process so that all deserving needy people benefit.

World Vision Malawi National Director, Robert Kisyula, assured Government and indeed all beneficiaries that his organisation will do its best to ensure that no lives are lost where they are operating. He further explained that the process of distribution by World Vision uses a computerised system where beneficiaries go through strict verification stages to detect any attempt to defraud the system.

However, Kisyula expressed sadness that every year, people of Chikwawa and Nsanje oscillate between effects of floods during the rainy season where lives are lost and to droughts where food shortage is the order of the day. Both cases necessitate the provision of food aid, a thing he said required a redefined approach for a long term solution.

WFP Country Director, Coco Ushiyama, expressed her organisation’s commitment to alleviating hunger in Malawi.

“At this time of unprecedented global need and specifically in Malawi, despite resource challenges, our commitment to the humanitarian imperative to save lives and livelihoods and to protect food and nutrition security remains stronger than ever,” said Ushiyama.

In a bid to ensure maximum results, she said WFP had renewed its focus on increasing links with its partners. “In Chikwawa, through partnership with World Vision, beneficiaries of in-kind food and cash assistance will be integrated into irrigation initiatives, village savings and loans groups and community groups making energy saving stoves that offer a source of incomeand conserve the environment as well,” she added.

Chikwawa District Commissioner, Bester Mandere and Traditional Authority Kasisi, said without food aid, people would starve to death.

“We are seen like beggars but we are not, it is natural disasters such as floods. After the floods this year, we tried to plant crops but drought thwarted our efforts to harvest food, hence we are always asking for assistance,” said Kasisi.

The launch of the programme signals the start of the relief efforts to be implemented in 25 districts across the country from October 2015 to March 2016, jointly by the Malawi government, WFP and other inter-governmental organisations.

Other organisations that will serve in other districts include Concern Worldwide, Save the Children and Emmanuel International.