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Ireland Helps Support Hungry Families And Refugees In Malawi

LILONGWE – The Government of Ireland has announced a contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) of more than US$1.3 million (MWK .5 billion) to boost food and nutrition security among some of the poorest households in Malawi.

Ireland’s support comes at a time of a worsening food crisis in Malawi. The full extent of the need has recently been confirmed by an updated report from the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) that found over 1.85  million people will need food assistance between now and March 2014. This is a 27 percent increase from an earlier estimate of 1.46 million people. An additional three districts now require assistance, bringing the total to 24 out of the 28 districts nationwide in need of support.

Ireland’s contribution will help fund food assistance for up to 250,000 people for one month during the ‘lean season’ between now and March when the next harvest is due.

“The Government of Ireland has been monitoring the humanitarian situation, and, recognising the increased need, provides this additional support to the government’s planned MVAC response,” says Irish Ambassador Liz Higgins.  “This support is consistent with our focus on addressing the Malawi food security challenge and follows an earlier contribution of the same amount to restock the strategic grain reserve.”  

WFP and its partners are scaling up their operations to assist the majority of the vulnerable people in 24 out of 28 districts nationwide through food distributions and cash transfers.

WFP’s efforts will also contribute to resilience-building through interventions that meet immediate food needs while strengthening the ability of vulnerable people to manage risks and withstand the adverse effects of drought and other shocks.

Ireland has also recently contributed US$275,000 to ensure that WFP food assistance is provided for 18,000 refugees in Malawi for up to 2 to 4 months, depending on the commodity type.

Refugees have no access to arable land or any tangible means of earning a living, rendering them heavily dependent on food and other assistance delivered by WFP and partners – who are in turn supported by donor partners.  

At the beginning of November, WFP was forced to reduce food rations for refugees in Dzaleka refugee camp due to a lack of resources.

“We appreciate the support from the Irish Government to our relief and refugee operations in Malawi,” said WFP Representative Coco Ushiyama. “Their contributions are vital for families whose harvests were meagre and also to refugees. We have experienced a drop in funding for long-standing refugee operations such as this one in Malawi.”

As part of its Purchase for Progress initiative, WFP will use the Irish funds to buy food, where possible, from local smallholder farmers who have not been affected by crop failure – and who will therefore have an opportunity to connect with markets and to boost their incomes.

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For more information please contact:
Rachael Wilson, Reports Officer, WFP Malawi, Email: rachael.wilson@wfp.org, Tel. +265 1 774 666
Aidan Fitzpatrick, Head of Development, Embassy of Ireland, E-mail: Aidan.Fitzpatrick@dfa.ie, Tel. + 265 088 821 5600  

About the World Food Programme:
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.

For more information about WFP in Malawi: http://www.wfp.org/countries/malawi

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About Irish Aid:

Irish Aid is the Irish Government’s programme for overseas development and is a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Irish Aid supports long term development and provides humanitarian assistance in over eighty countries on behalf of the Irish people.