Food Assistance Fact Sheet - Malawi

Map of Malawi
Map of Malawi

May 29, 2019


Malawi is a landlocked, low-income country.  Eighty percent of the population consists of smallholder farmers and nearly 70 percent of people live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.  In recent years, climate-related shocks and an outbreak of Fall Armyworm—an invasive crop pest—have reduced food production.   


  • Nearly one million people in southern Malawi were affected by Tropical Cyclone Idai, which made landfall in early March and resulted in heavy rainfall and flooding, destroying houses, crops, and infrastructure.  As a result, households in flood-affected areas are expected to face Stressed (IPC 2) and Crisis (IPC 3) levels of food insecurity through September, due to a loss of crops, livestock, and livelihoods, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).*  Despite an estimated loss of 175,000 acres of crops due to flooding, the overall 2019 crop harvest is projected to be well above 2018 production, sustaining Minimal (IPC 1) levels of food insecurity across areas of the country less-affected by flooding.
  • Malawi also hosts more than 38,000 refugees, primarily from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda, the majority of whom are dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their daily food needs.

*The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of food insecurity. The IPC scale, which is comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal (IPC 1) to Famine (IPC 5).


  • USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with the UN World Food Program (WFP) in Malawi to provide cyclone-affected populations with cash transfers for food, with which recipients can purchase urgently-needed supplies in local markets.  FFP also supports WFP to strengthen the technical capacity of the Government of Malawi to coordinate and provide emergency assistance, including the distribution of maize from the national grain reserve to food-insecure communities across the country.
  • Additionally, WFP carries out food-for-asset activities.  In exchange for participation in creating or rehabilitating community assets that support resilience from recurrent shocks, households receive assistance to meet basic household food and nutrition needs.
  • FFP also partners with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide specialized nutritious products to children experiencing severe acute malnutrition.
  • Through its partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Project Concern International (PCI) , FFP supports long-term development activities that reduce chronic malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as build resilience to environmental shocks in food-insecure and disaster-prone districts of southern Malawi.  Furthermore, the FFP partnership with CRS supports the USAID Feed the Future initiative to help smallholder farmers improve productivity and increase income, in coordination with the Government of Malawi.

Food for Peace Contributions

Total Contributions:

  U.S. Dollars Metric Tons
Fiscal Year 2019 $24.4 million 2,191 MT
Fiscal Year 2018 $30.5 million 33,121 MT
Fiscal Year 2017 $63.6 million 53,211 MT


Country Specific Guidance

Related Resources

Last updated: May 29, 2019

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