Malawi: EU committed to save lives and boost resilience against drought

Brussels/Lilongwe, 25 November 2016

As Southern Africa enters the critical lean season, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is in Malawi to visit EU humanitarian aid projects that help communities deal with the effects of prolonged drought. Commissioner Stylianides is meeting President Peter Mutharika before visiting Chikwawa and Zomba districts where nutrition and food assistance is provided to particularly vulnerable households.

"The EU stands firmly by Malawi and other countries in Southern Africa affected by the El Niño drought. In response to this state of emergency, we have provided €57 million in Southern Africa, including more than €16 million to Malawi, in humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction since early 2016. We are committed to continue our assistance, which deals with both immediate response and longer-term recovery," Commissioner Stylianides said.

EU humanitarian assistance in Malawi has helped provide assistance to the most vulnerable families for food, financing the construction of irrigation facilities and supporting sustainable livelihoods. It is also helping vulnerable families bridge the gap until the first harvests in March 2017.

More than 800 000 people are set to benefit from EU-funded humanitarian programmes.

Background

Southern Africa and El Nino

  • The region is one of the worst affected by this year’s El Niño phenomenon. For Malawi, this has resulted in a fifth consecutive year with serious food shortages. With harvests still months away, up to 6.7 million people - 40% of the population - are already experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity.The 2015/16 rainfall season has been the driest in the last 35 years across several parts of the Southern Africa region. Two consecutive below-average rainy seasons have negatively impacted crop and livestock production, cereal prices, water availability and livelihoods. 
  • At the beginning of 2016, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency appealing for international support. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) declared a regional drought disaster, with more than 28 million people deemed food insecure.
  • At the start of the hunger season in October 2016, more than 12 million people needed humanitarian assistance across the region. According to WFP this number will rise to over 14 million by December 2016. The population in Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Angola are experiencing severe food shortages while an emergency situation is being observed in Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
  • In parts of the region, the prolonged drought caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon is expected to be followed by the above-average rainfall of La Niña as early as November 2016. Farmers need seeds and fertiliser to capitalise on the rainy season.
  • In December 2015, the EU provided €12 million in emergency support for Southern Africa as one of the regions most affected by El Niño. This was followed in January 2016 by €5 million for disaster risk reduction and, in April 2016, by an additional €40 million for the El Niño emergency response. The aid is helping to meet the urgent needs of the population and build their resilience in the face of increasing climatic disasters.
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