Concern Worldwide calls for urgent response to emergencies in drought-hit Malawi & Mozambique

Concern Worldwide calls for urgent response to emergencies in drought-hit Malawi & Mozambique

14 April 2016

Concern Worldwide is calling for an urgent response after drought stricken Malawi declared a national disaster and Mozambique issued a “red-alert.”

Concern is calling on the international community to immediately respond to this food emergency to prevent a massive human catastrophe.

Malawi’s President, Peter Mutharika, declared a national disaster yesterday due to the ongoing drought and his country’s worst crop failure in a generation – revealing that these disasters will affect “a considerable number” of people.

Neighbouring Mozambique also issued a “red alert” – its highest state of disaster alert – in its southern and central provinces where severe drought has threatened at least 1.5 million people with hunger.

Map of Malawi. Source: UN OCHA

Concern Worldwide’s Malawi Country Director, Caoimhe de Barra, who is in the south-eastern African nation, said many millions of people will suffer, some losing loved ones as a result of preventable hunger and illness, if help does not arrive.

The humanitarian worker warned that up to 4 million people need support in Malawi after severe crop failure there due to drought – which provoked its government to declare a “disaster.”

This stark figure is up from the 2.8 million people who were facing hunger and food insecurity in Malawi by the end of 2015.

Concern’s Caoimhe de Barra said:

The food security situation in Malawi is severe. We are witnessing crop failure in some parts of the country on a scale not seen for a generation. Malawians’ ability to survive was already severely compromised by flooding in 2015, and this year’s droughts compound the situation.

We have seen many families falling into extreme levels of poverty, where they are forced to take children out of school and marry girls of 13 or 14 off. We can anticipate that there will be a need to support 3-4 million people over the next 12 months – and the figures could rise higher.

Early action is key. If we can start supporting people now, we can save lives and prevent an even worse situation later this year and next year.

Already, 42% of the children in Malawi are stunted and the country has one of the highest rates of stunting in the world.

It is feared that malnutrition will blight the life chances of countless more Malawian children.

Vital therapeutic foods and medicines for severely malnourished children in rural areas are needed.

The maize harvest last year was 30% below the 5 year average and this year’s harvest is 12.4% below last year’s harvest.

Maize is crucial in Malawi where it accounts for 95% of all crops harvested in and is the staple food.

Caoimhe de Barra added that the reduction in availability of maize at a time which the government is unlikely to be able to find maize to buy in regional markets is “devastating”.

The Malawi government said that the significantly reduced harvest in 2016 is a consequence of the El Niño weather phenomenon, made worse by climate change and flooding in 2015.

The weather phenomenon has again left harvests decimated across Africa’s eastern and southern region in particular and it is believed that the impact of this El Niño is likely to last until the next harvests in March 2017.

Concern’s Caoimhe de Barra added:

It is imperative to protect lives in the short term but also to find ways of ensuring that people’s resilience to devastating drought is increased, such as through climate smart agriculture. Greater political accountability and transparency in the investment of funds for food security is also key.

Among other countries affected in Southern Africa by the El Niño effect is Zambia where Concern is preparing for an emergency response if an ongoing vulnerability assessment indicates severe food insecurity.

 

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Map of Malawi. Source: UN OCHA

Concern Worldwide calls for urgent response to emergencies in drought-hit Malawi & Mozambique

Concern Worldwide is calling for an urgent response after drought stricken Malawi declared a national disaster and Mozambique issued a “red-alert.”