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Action Against Hunger spells Malawi food plan

Action Against Hunger says it is mobilising resources for an immediate response to save lives in Malawi following acute food shortages that have hit the country following floods and dry spells of 2015.

The international NGO says it will also work in partnership with Malawi’s health authorities to respond to the alarming increases in numbers of severely malnourished children—and to scale up interventions to reach, screen and treat at-risk children this winter.

“Even before the Malawian government issued an urgent call to action to the humanitarian community, we had already begun assessing needs and preparing a response,” states Action Against Hunger on its website.

“We consider it essential to work hand in hand with Malawi’s Ministry of Health,” said Mikel Mendoza, action against hunger’s emergency response coordinator.

“We are launching a coordinated response—and working to identify and strengthen all aspects of how we will work together to identify malnourished children in at-risk communities and deliver lifesaving treatment”.

The NGO says the first phase of its response will prioritise emergency nutrition interventions to deliver support and treatment to the most vulnerable children while the second phase will focus on helping communities recover crops and livelihoods to ensure they have secure sources of income and food.

The third phase, it says, will be aimed at building resilience, ensuring emergency preparedness, and working with the most vulnerable communities to reduce their vulnerability to future disasters.

“Action Against Hunger is committed to helping the people of Malawi lift themselves out of crisis in the short term, and empowering them to overcome shocks and reach self sufficiency in the long term,” it says.

Drought and erratic rainfall in late 2014 and early 2015 damaged crop production in Malawi and the Malawi government estimates that maize production has fallen by 27 percent compared to last year, and is down by 20 percent compared to the average of the past five years.

The drought was followed by severe floods caused by unusually heavy rainfall in 2015 which ruined crops, damaged homes, and killed livestock.

These extreme weather events have taken a huge toll on communities that depend on farming for survival: the food stocks of vulnerable families have been depleted or lost, according to Action Against Hunger’s programme officer for Malawi Lucia Prieto.

According to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), 2.8 million people across the country are now facing a dangerous food crisis and are in urgent need of immediate emergency assistance.

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