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

Key Developments

Flooding triggered by heavy rainfall in Malawi’s Southern Region caused at least 60 deaths and affected an estimated 868,900 people in 15 districts in the region. Flooding also damaged and destroyed houses and public infrastructure—including bridges, electrical networks, roads, and schools—and resulted in crop and livestock losses. Affected populations are also at high risk of waterborne diseases and other health conditions due to water contamination and stagnation. On March 8, the Government of Malawi declared a State of Disaster for the Southern Region and requested international assistance to respond to needs resulting from the floods. 

On March 10, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia E. Palmer declared a disaster due to the effects of the floods in Malawi. In response, USAID provided $750,000 to relief partners Catholic Relief Services and CARE to provide emergency relief commodities and water, sanitation, and hygiene and livelihoods support.

USAID provided more than $5.7 million in FY 2019 assistance to support health, food, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene activities for people in flood and tropical cyclone-affected areas of Malawi. 

 Additionally, USAID responded to the effects of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as Cyclone Kenneth in Comoros. Please visit our webpage for additional information.    


Malawi experiences a variety of natural disasters, including cyclones, cyclical 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.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: November 25, 2019

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