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

USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance USAID/OFDA) is responding to a regional drought in Southern Africa, including in Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

Populations in most areas of Malawi are experiencing Minimal-level food insecurity following the start of the main harvest season in April, according to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warnings System Network. However, some households in Karonga and Nsanje districts will likely face Stressed levels of food insecurity through September due to localized dry spells and fall armyworm infestations.

The staple maize harvest in Malawi is likely to be average, with production estimated at 3.3 million MT, according to the Government of Malawi (GoM) Ministry of Agriculture, which plans to release final maize production figures in June. Maize prices have decreased in Malawi since April due in part to emergency food assistance and the expectation of an average harvest.

During an early April monitoring trip, staff from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) visited USAID-supported program sites throughout Malawi, where five partners are conducting agriculture, food security, and livelihoods interventions to help vulnerable households maintain and restore their livelihoods. The programs USAID staff visited included trainings for lead farmers on conservation agriculture techniques appropriate for drought conditions; distributions of drought-resistant crops, such as orange-fleshed sweet potato vines; and provision of seeds to farmers who lack access to adequate inputs. During the trip, USAID staff observed high harvest yields and indicators of successful implementation of conservation agriculture. Additionally, seed fair beneficiaries demonstrated recovered agricultural production capacity.

Despite overall improvements, prolonged dry spells and fall armyworm infestations severely affected seed fair beneficiaries in Nsanje, resulting in minimal harvests and likely continued food insecurity in the district. In response, USAID/OFDA partner Concern Worldwide is supporting irrigation to improve access to water for vulnerable households in this area and generate off-season crop growth to improve food security.

In March, USAID/FFP partner the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in coordination with the GoM Ministry of Health, supported nutrition screening for more than 1.2 million children in 15 of the country’s 28 districts. Approximately 22,000 children—including 2,400 experiencing severe acute malnutrition—were referred to health facilities. USAID/FFP recently provided nearly $90,000 to support the UNICEF ongoing emergency nutrition interventions in Malawi.

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: June 07, 2017

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