Food Assistance Fact Sheet - Malawi

Map of Malawi
Map of Malawi

September 30, 2019

Approximately eighty percent of the population in Malawi—a landlocked, low-income country—are smallholder farmers, while nearly 70 percent of people live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.  In recent years, climatic shocks have increased food insecurity for vulnerable populations.   


  • In southern Malawi, 868,900 individuals 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, vulnerable households in flood-affected areas are expected to face Crisis (IPC 3) levels of acute food insecurity through January, 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.
  • According to a recent IPC Technical Working Group analysis, more than one million people, primarily in southern Malawi, are expected to face Crisis levels of acute food insecurity through the October-to-March lean season, the period when food is most scarce.
  • Malawi hosts nearly 39,000 refugees, primarily from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda, the majority of whom are dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their 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) to strengthen household resilience through its food-for-asset activities.  In exchange for participation in creation and rehabilitation of community assets that protect against recurrent shocks, households receive assistance to meet basic household food and nutrition needs.  FFP also partners with WFP to provide emergency food assistance to vulnerable individuals during the 2019/2020 lean season, as well as refugee populations hosted in the country.
  • Additionally, FFP supports the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide specialized nutritious products to children experiencing severe acute malnutrition.
  • In Fiscal Year 2019, FFP began funding a multi-year development activity implemented by non-governmental organization partner CARE and aimed at supporting the implementation of Malawi’s National Resilience Strategy.  The activity will focus on improving household income; fortifying maternal, child, and adolescent nutrition and health; and strengthening communities’ ability to recover from climatic shocks.  In addition, the activity will work on strengthening institutional capacity of local actors, at the district and national level, to coordinate resilience investments as well as adopt effective approaches to prevent, mitigate, and respond to shocks.

Food for Peace Contributions

Total Contributions:

  U.S. Dollars Metric Tons
Fiscal Year 2019 $42.2 million 2,421 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: November 08, 2019

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