Press release

Southern Africa facing disaster as food crisis looms

International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone announces support to help millions facing food crisis in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Britain will provide up to £35 million to help millions of the world’s poorest people survive a looming food crisis that is set to grip Southern Africa, International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone announced in Malawi today.

Rising food prices have combined with unpredictable weather to leave food stocks dangerously low across the region.

Malawi, which was a net exporter of maize just a few years ago, has now seen stocks depleted to a quarter of its annual average after the worst harvest in 7 years. Meanwhile maize prices have more than doubled over the past year.

In Zimbabwe, early indications show that the harvest will be significantly worse than last year, when 1 in 5 people in rural areas – 1.6 million people – did not have enough to eat before British support was dispersed.

International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

“Countries across Southern Africa are facing disaster as a looming food crisis threatens to leave millions hungry.

“British support will save countless lives in 2 of the worst-affected countries in the region, ensuring the most vulnerable people in Malawi and Zimbabwe are not forgotten as the crisis worsens.”

Britain will provide up to £20 million in food assistance to Malawi over the next 12 months. The humanitarian package will support the World Food Programme (WFP) and international NGOs, and will provide:

  • Nearly half a million vulnerable people with food and cash transfers;
  • school meals to over 800,000 school children; and
  • treatment for 18,000 malnourished children and pregnant women.

Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda said:

“My government has always cherished the UK government’s responsiveness to our request for support and grateful for this assistance. This support will go a long way in protecting the livelihoods of vulnerable Malawians who are likely going to miss their food entitlements due to food insecurity at household level. This support complements my government’s efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition in Malawi.”

Britain will also provide £15 million to the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Zimbabwe. This package will provide:

  • food to over 600,000 people; and
  • enough cattle feed and vaccinations to protect the livestock and livelihoods of over 300,000 people.

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