Over 1 million people received food assistance during the lean season

Beatrice Mbeza

The Government of Malawi (GoM), together with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Development Partners have successfully provided food and cash assistance to over 1 million people who faced severe food insecurity in Malawi during the 2020/2021 Food Insecurity Lean Season.

The population included households from rural areas that experienced localized low levels of crop production, as well as people in urban areas who experienced loss of income due to the economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

With resources mobilised both by the Government of Malawi and Development Partners, the response started in December 2020 and ran until March 2021. The Government allocated in-kind maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve for the programme, while WFP distributed cash so that people could buy food in the local markets.


Cash distributions have been completed in 7 districts of Balaka, Nsanje, Neno, Zomba, Machinga, Dedza and Phalombe, reaching 108,000 households (488,000 people). In addition, WFP has provided technical support to the Government-led maize distributions in 5 districts of Mangochi, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Salima and Lilongwe, reaching 120,000 households (540,000 people).

To lessen the economic effects of COVID-19 on urban poor populations, cash distributions were made in 7 bomas (district towns) namely Balaka, Nsanje, Neno, Machinga, Mangochi, Dedza, Salima – reaching 11,000 households (53,000 people).

A snapshot of beneficiaries from these three assistance modalities is presented in pictures below.


Lali Yuda lives in Kuwi village in Dedza District. Despite his advanced age, he is still farming by himself. “In my youth, farming was enough to feed ourselves. But with the changing climate, we need fertilisers, and these are expensive, that’s why I could not harvest enough last year. I will buy food with this money and a goat. This can help in case of an emergency,” he said.

Beatrice Mbeza, 32, from Mvululu Village in Salima District faced hunger and had been relying on piecemeal work feed her 3 children. “The two bags of maize I’ve received today will prevent me from harvesting early my maize before it dries up,” said Beatrice.

Chiyese Nyambose

Chiyese Nyambose is a single mother of 3. She has lost her restaurant in Dedza market as she was making poor sales since the beginning of the pandemic. She has received cash support as part of the COVID-19 Urban Cash Response and hopes to reinvest the money in a smaller business so she can provide for her children.

The Government of Malawi and the United Nations World Food Programme are thankful to all donors particularly the European Union, the Joint SDG Fund, , the Governments of Norway, Ireland, United Kingdom and United States of America, for timely responding to the appeal for technical and financial support towards implementation of the programme.

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