A woman in Malawi demonstrates how she uses irrigation techniques to water her crops
A woman in Malawi demonstrates how she uses irrigation techniques to water her crops
USAID/Helen Ho

Latest Southern Africa Fact Sheet

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Key Developments

In early August, the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported that increasing numbers of households across Southern Africa will face significant threats to their food security and livelihoods through September. FEWS NET noted that many households in drought-affected areas of Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe continue to experience Stressed—IPC 2—and Crisis—IPC 3—levels of food insecurity, with further deterioration likely as food prices increase and supplies diminish during the peak of the October-to-January lean season. FEWS NET also predicted that some areas currently facing Stressed conditions will reach Crisis levels of food insecurity by October, and acutely affected areas of southern Madagascar, Malawi, and Zimbabwe may reach Emergency—IPC 4—levels of food insecurity.

Admissions to the UN World Food Program (WFP) nutritional therapy programs in Malawi declined in May and June compared to April. Over the two-month period, new admissions of children younger than five years of age experiencing moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) decreased by nearly 25 percent, while admissions of children experiencing severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remained steady. WFP notes, however, that new admissions in 2016 remain nearly two times higher than 2015. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) also admitted more than 3,500 children with SAM to treatment programs in June—representing an increase of nearly 50 percent compared to June 2015.

As of late June, UNICEF had admitted approximately 29,850 children younger than five years of age to outpatient therapeutic programs (OTPs) and nutrition rehabilitation units (NRUs) across 25 drought-affected districts of Malawi. UNICEF is pre-positioning nutrition commodities at approximately 600 OTP and 100 NRU sites and supporting the delivery of SAM treatment commodities across the country. In July, UNICEF completed the distribution of nearly 4,720 cartons of ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) to health facilities in all of Malawi’s 28 districts. At the district level, UNICEF nutrition field monitors and more than 9,000 community health workers are conducting community outreach activities, including acute malnutrition screening and referral and nutrition-related community mobilization programs for children younger than five years of age.

Of its recent regional contribution of $5 million, the Government of Japan plans to support WFP in Malawi with more than $1.8 million to provide food and nutrition support to food-insecure and drought-affected households. WFP is currently targeting 4 4.5 million people in Malawi with food assistance and aims to reach 5.9 million people across 24 districts in January 2017. Due to funding shortfalls, WFP provided reduced rations in Malawi in July and August.

USAID's Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) has provided more than $92 million and 75,000 MT of commodities to WFP in FY 2016 to address emergency food needs in Malawi. The support includes nearly $60 million in U.S. in-kind food assistance, $16 million in locally and regionally procured food, and $17 million for maize twinning. The most recent contribution of $15 million of U.S. in-kind food assistance is expected to arrive prior to the start of the rainy season in November. USAID/FFP also provided locally purchased RUTF to prevent and treat SAM.

USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA)  is responding to a regional drought in Southern Africa. Please visit our webpage for additional information.


Malawi experiences a variety of natural disasters, including cyclones, cylical drought, earthquakes, flooding, and severe storms. In addition, vulnerable populations experience recurring food insecurity. USAID/OFDA’s strategy in Malawi includes responding to urgent humanitarian needs while also supporting disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives which strengthen the resilience of communities. USAID/OFDA DRR programs include activities that promote conservation agriculture, the use of flood- and drought-tolerant seeds, and train local and national authorities in disaster response management.

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Last updated: August 26, 2016

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