Malawi declares state of emergency over drought

Malawi has declared a state of disaster over worsening food shortages caused by a severe drought as concerns grow over a hunger crisis spreading across much of Southern Africa.

About 2.8 million Malawians face food insecurity, making the country one of the worst hit in the region’s drought.

Malawian President, Peter Mutharika said in a statement that the country’s maize production has dropped by 12 percent, leaving it short of about one million tonnes of maize needed to feed the population.

According to United Nation figures, nearly 20 per cent of the population face food insecurity, making the country one of the worst hit in southern and eastern Africa, where the current drought affects 50 million people.

“I declare Malawi [to be in] a state of national disaster following prolonged dry spells during the 2015/16 agriculture season,” President Mutharika said.

He stressed that, “with the increased maize deficit, it is expected that an increased number of people will be food-insecure and will require humanitarian relief assistance for the whole 2016-17 consumption year.” 

Region’s most awful hit
Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zambia are also suffering food supply problems, while South Africa has said that the recent drought was its worst in more than 100 years.

In Zimbabwe, 2.8 million people, more than a quarter of the rural population, do not have enough to eat.

UN Humanitarian Country Team, Michel Le Pechoux said in Mozambique, they have released a total of $15 million since the beginning of the crisis, which coordinates relief efforts.

“But the response is still very limited compared with the actual needs, which amount to about $200 million, while central Mozambique was the worst-hit area,” Pechoux added.

Malawi was hit by a drought linked with climate change last year, when flooding also hit its southern region.

A new drought caused by the climatic phenomenon El Nino is now ravaging the country.