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 disasters in Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

As of January 8, health officials had confirmed approximately 200 cases of cholera and four related deaths since the outbreak began in late November 2017. The outbreak recently spread to Malawi’s densely populated Lilongwe District, raising concerns that the disease could spread further and lead to a protracted outbreak, the UN reports. As a result, the UN and national authorities are mobilizing resources to support an effective and coordinated response while the outbreak remains in the early stages.

On December 15, 2017, President Arthur P. Mutharika declared a state of disaster in 20 of 28 districts due to fall armyworm (FAW) infestations that had affected more than 133,000 households since the start of the 2017/2018 agricultural season. The Government of Malawi, with support from international partners, is leading the FAW response, including procurement and distribution of pesticides and surveillance activities, according to international media. A January Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) assessment indicated that current FAW response efforts are effectively addressing infestations across several districts, which could reduce the overall impact on crops. The Ministry of Agriculture reports that FAW infestations had affected approximately 270,000 hectares of crops as of January 12.

In Southern Region’s Nsanje and Balaka districts, FEWS NET anticipates that ongoing humanitarian assistance will likely maintain Minimal—IPC 1—levels of food insecurity through March. In addition, FEWS NET reports that deliveries of humanitarian assistance will likely contribute to improved food security through March for populations in Southern Region’s Chikwawa and Mwanza districts, who currently face Stressed—IPC 2—levels of food insecurity. More than 40 percent of the population in Southern Region requires humanitarian assistance, according to the 2017 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee analysis. Despite continued acute food insecurity among vulnerable populations in some parts of Malawi, most people are experiencing Minimal levels of food insecurity, FEWS NET reports.

In response to drought conditions, USAID/OFDA partner Catholic Relief Services is delivering agriculture and food security interventions in Southern Region’s Mwanza and Neno districts to support economic recovery and restore livelihoods among affected households.

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: February 15, 2018

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