Malawi: Food Assistance Fact Sheet – February 19, 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. In recent years, climate-related shocks and an outbreak of fall armyworm�an invasive crop pest�have reduced food production.


The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee estimates that 3.3 million Malawians, including nearly 1.8 million in the southern region, will require humanitarian food assistance during the October-to-March lean season�when food stocks are typically at their lowest. This year, the Government of Malawi is managing all aspects of the lean season response and providing in-kind assistance to affected populations with maize from the national grain reserves.

Malawi also hosts more than 37,000 refugees, primarily from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, many of whom depend on humanitarian assistance for their daily food needs.

According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), humanitarian food assistance is improving acute food insecurity conditions across the country. In the absence of humanitarian assistance, FEWS NET projects most households in central and southern Malawi would face Stressed (IPC 2) and Crisis (IPC 3) levels of food insecurity during the lean season. Additionally, adequate rainfall across the country has replenished water sources used for pasture and irrigation, improving the potential for increased food and cash-crop production.


USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) works with the UN World Food Program (WFP) in Malawi to distribute food assistance to refugees and food-insecure populations and complement the Government of Malawi’s lean season response. Additionally, WFP carries out food-for-asset activities. In exchange for a household member helping to create or rehabilitate community assets that support resilience from recurrent shocks, families receive assistance in meeting basic household food and nutrition needs.

Through its partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), FFP conducts long-term development activities to reduce chronic malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as to build resilience to environmental shocks in Chikwawa, Nsanje and rural Blantyre�three of the most food-insecure and disaster-prone districts of southern Malawi. Furthermore, the FFP partnership with CRS supports the Feed the Future initiative to help smallholder farmers improve productivity and income in coordination with the Government of Malawi.

FFP also works with Project Concern International (PCI) to improve food security in southern Malawi’s Balaka and Machinga districts through a long-term development activity. PCI focuses on bolstering market-oriented agricultural production, improving the health and nutrition of children younger than 5 years of age and pregnant and lactating women, strengthening community disaster preparedness and increasing the resilience of vulnerable households.

Source: US Agency for International Development