LILONGWE, November 1 – U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer today announced a new United States donation of $23 million (MK 17 billion) to assist Malawian people in need of humanitarian food assistance. This additional donation is in response to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s (MVAC) report that 6.5 million Malawians need humanitarian food assistance to alleviate suffering through March 2017. All of these funds will be channeled through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).
Of the $23 million, $18 million will be used to help fill deficits in pulses and super cereal needed for the 2016/17 Food Insecurity Response Plan while $5 million will be used to purchase ready-to-use therapeutic food for HIV patients currently being treated with Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). The latter is particularly important to preserve gains made to date in HIV treatment, as malnourished patients tend to discontinue ART without access to food to ameliorate the treatment’s side effects.
To further preserve development gains in other sectors, the United States Government has also re-programmed $12 million of previously planned investments in agricultural development and climate change adaptation programs. These were longer-term investments that now have been re-directed to enhance the United States Government’s responsiveness to the dire food security situation Malawi currently faces. These are primarily food-for-work activities, whereby beneficiaries will receive food for their contributions to resilience-building measures, such as afforestation, soil and water conservation, and small-scale irrigation.
The additional assistance made available to Malawi, plus the resources re-programmed to protect gains achieved to date, brings the United States Government’s total contribution to the 2016/17 Food Insecurity Response Plan to nearly $118 million, equivalent to about 30% of the Plan’s $395 million estimated cost.
“The United States Government continues to stand by Malawians in their time of need. But, together we recognize that policy and market predictability are critical if Malawi’s farmers are to become entrepreneurs, if agribusinesses are to invest, and if Malawi is to transform its agriculture sector from a source of vulnerability into an engine for growth,” Ambassador Palmer said.
The Ambassador added that the United States will continue to work with the Government of Malawi to break the cycle of food insecurity by providing assistance to help Malawi to honor its New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition commitments. This includes a review of the Control of Goods Act, which has inhibited investment in food production, and the drafting of a Seed Bill that is consistent with Malawi’s SADC seed harmonization obligations to enhance farmer access to quality seeds from across the region. Reforms are urgently required to help avoid similar food shortages in the coming agricultural season caused by the unpredictability of Malawi’s maize markets.