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Food Assistance for Refugees in Malawi

Malawi’s geographical location and open door policy has provided refuge for those seeking asylum despite national economic implications. Since June 2002 to present, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing food assistance to refugees residing in two designated camp: Dzaleka in the Central region, Luwani in the Southern region, as well as those arriving in the country at Karonga transit shelter in the Northern region. 

The relief food assistance was first provided under the Emergency Operation (EMOP) 10152. The Emergency Operation was succeeded in 2004 by the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 10309 which should have finished by the end of December 2005 but was extended by one year to December 2006. Under the PRRO, the host communities surrounding the two camps have also benefited from food assistance through Food for Asset (FFA) activities.

This PRRO expansion (10309.1) will run for three years and will provide relief and recovery assistance to the refugees through general food distributions in the camps and at the transit shelter. The PRRO will also implement Food for Asset activities for individuals that are food insecure, coming from host community surrounding the camps. Activities will focus on the rehabilitation of natural resources and physical infrastructures.

According to the results from the 2006 UNHCR/WFP/Government of Malawi Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) and the food security survey, more than half of the food consumed by the refugees is from food aid, thus indicating that the refugees are heavily reliant on food aid. Some refugees supplement the assistance with crop production and/or wage labour.

However, due to government restrictions on refugee access to employment outside the camps and land allocation controls, these strategies are insufficient to cover total food needs.

Malawi has acceded to international instruments governing the protection of refugees, namely; the 1951 Geneva Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, and has also enacted a Refugee Law which guides the implementation of activities related to asylum seekers/refugees in the country.

However, Malawi still has nine reservations on the instruments, including restriction to freedom of movement, Naturalization and wage earning employment.

This PRRO will strive to maintain access to food aid among targeted refugees, improve and maintain the natural environment as well as physical and social infrastructure in refugee hosting communities. These correspond to the Global WFP Strategic Objective Plan 2, to “Protect livelihoods in crisis situations”.

The project will require 6,997 MT of food aid of which 5,237 MT will be for refugees’ rations and 1,760 MT for FFA activities. The commodities are split as follows: a total of 4,247 MT of rice, 1,600 MT of cereal grain, 726 MT of pulses,47 MT of salt, 142 MT of sugar and 236 MT vegetable oil to be distributed to an average refugee population of 8,600 and 8,800 food insecure people from the surrounding local villages.The project will be implemented at a total estimated cost of US$ 3, 582,126.

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WFP Offices
Country at a glance 2014
Planned Beneficiaries2,827,873
Beneficiary needs (mt)0
Beneficiary needs ($US)100,486,135
Donors - 2014 ($US)
Donors - Directed contributions
Multilateral contributionsUS$ 685,837
USA16,207,450
Malawi6,419,582
UN Common Funds and Agencies (excl CERF)2,357,855
Japan2,100,000
Germany1,575,626
Private Donors1,005,463
Canada897,666
Belgium533,333
Ireland353,607
Iceland194,667
Threats to food security
  • Land degradation
  • Deforestation
  • Floods
  • Drought
  • Water pollution from agricultural runoff
  • HIV / AIDS