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

Drought-affected populations, particularly in southern Malawi, are experiencing Stressed—IPC 2—and Crisis levels of food insecurity, requiring emergency assistance to meet food needs and preserve livelihoods, according to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). Food security could further deteriorate in Balaka, Chikwawa, and Nsanje districts in the absence of humanitarian assistance, resulting in some households experiencing Emergency—IPC 4—conditions from October–January 2017. Approximately 6.5 million people will require emergency assistance between July 2016 and March 2017, according to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee.

On June 23, the World Bank announced $22.6 million in funding for Malawi, including more than $11.2 million for activities to mitigate drought-related malnutrition among children younger than five years of age. The funding will support the Government of Malawi (GoM) efforts to prevent and treat malnutrition, including through local malnutrition case management, malnutrition screening and referral programs, and treatment of common illnesses associated with malnutrition.

UN World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin visited Malawi during the week of July 18 to highlight humanitarian needs in the country. Second Lady of the U.S. Dr. Jill Biden accompanied Executive Director Cousin for part of the trip, during which they visited a USG-supported WFP school feeding program in Southern Region’s Zomba District and spoke with drought-affected farmers in the area. WFP has requested $535 million to respond to drought-related needs in the region, of which $217 million—or 40 percent of the total requirement—is needed for relief operations in Malawi. The UN agency reports that its relief operations in Malawi represent the largest emergency food relief operation in the country’s history.

USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) recently provided nearly $4.7 million for drought response efforts in Malawi. The total includes nearly $3.2 million for agriculture and food security interventions by NGOs Adventist Development and Relief Agency, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam/Great Britain, and Save the Children/U.S.; and nearly $1.5 million for agricultural, economic, and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance from Concern and Project Concern International.

USAID's Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) announced a new contribution of over $23 million for food assistance in Malawi. This includes $15 million through WFP that will facilitate food-for-asset activities that assist food-insecure households during the lean season while building community resilience to recurrent shocks. USAID/FFP also committed $7 million to WFP for the transportation and distribution of GoM-provided maize, as well as $1.1 million to UNICEF to provide treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

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: July 27, 2016

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