United States Announces Additional $4.6 Million in Food Assistance

LILONGWE, February 15 – U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer today announced a new United States donation of $4.6 million (MK 3.3 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 6.7 million Malawians need humanitarian food assistance to alleviate suffering through March 2017.  Funds will be channeled through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).

Of the $4.6 million, $2.5 million will be used to transport and distribute 10,800 MT of maize from the Malawian Government’s Strategic Grain Reserve, and $2.1 million is education funding repurposed to fill a critical gap in Malawi’s school feeding program.

This additional assistance brings the United States Government’s total contribution to the 2016/17 Food Insecurity Response Plan to $126 million, equivalent to about one third 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.  Key to this is Malawi’s fulfilling its New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition commitments.  These include a review of the Control of Goods Act, which has inhibited investment in food production, and passage of a Seed Bill consistent with Malawi’s commitment to SADC seed harmonization so Malawi farmers can access and sell quality seeds across the region.  Reforms are urgently required to help avoid future food shortages caused not only by climate change but by the unpredictability of Malawi’s maize markets.

Ambassador Palmer also noted that she appreciated “President Mutharika’s leadership in dealing with the worst food crisis of the Southern Africa drought.”  She also praised Vice President Chilima’s months-long work to bring all stakeholders to the table to address Malawi’s food crises.