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Malawi declares state of disaster over drought wrought by El Niño

Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera during an address From Kamuzu Palace, Lilongwe on Mar. 23, 2024   -  
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Cleared / VIA @DrLazarusChakwera - Malawi Broadcasting Corporation


Malawi urgently needs more than $200 million in humanitarian assistance, the president said as he declared a state of disaster in most of the country's provinces over drought.

Malawi has declared a state of disaster in 23 out of the country's 28 districts.

President Lazarus Chakwera announced on Saturday (Mar. 23) that 2 million farming households have been affected by the El Nino-induced dry spells and need food.

The announcement by President Chakwera coincided with a food distribution exercise in Neno district, southern Malawi by the World Food Programme together with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs.

"I have a big farmland measuring more than one acre and a half. Together with the children I stay with, we farm on this land. With good rains, I harvest 20-50kg bags of maize. This year, to be honest, I have harvested nothing," aid beneficiary Manes Kanjala said.

"We planted in November and the maize germinated because we had rains. In December, we had fewer rains. There was too much sun that scorched the whole field and crops.”

Brighton Mphinga, the Disaster Risk Management Officer for Neno district anticipates more humanitarian assistance following the presidential announcement.

“The food you have seen we are distributing today is for the season that we are in, but there is an additional type of hunger that we are facing because of the dry spell we have experienced. For Neno, it has been hit hard. So, the president’s declaration means other people are going to come in now, lifting the hand of government where it wasn’t necessarily able to do it. People are going to come because of that declaration."

The "Presidential Initiative to Stop Hunger" calls out to locals and the international community.

Around 600,000 metric tons of food aid are needed.

Malawi has been repeatedly hit by weather extremes in recent years.

Neighboring Zambia declared a national disaster in late February.

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