July 9, 2004

WFP food aid planned

The United Nations' (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) is planning to deliver emergency food aid to Malawi from August, following another poor harvest in the drought-prone south of the country. "The interventions are a combination of food-for-work and targeted food distributions that will target 250.000 people initially," WFP spokesperson Abdelgadir Hamid said. WFP expects the number of beneficiaries to rise to over a million by January or February 2005. Malawi requires 2.2 million tons of maize annually, but crop assessments by the National Statistics Office have put the anticipated maize harvest at 1.73 million tons - 13% less than last year's 1.98 million tons. A multi-agency Vulnerability Assessment Committee has estimated that 1.3 to 1.7 million Malawians would be in need of food. WFP has about 55.000 tons in stock to begin its distribution programme. Malawi's National Food Reserve Agency has also issued a tender for the purchase of 28.000 tons of maize to replenish the strategic grain reserve. Zambia, which was expecting a bumper crop, has already expressed an interest in supplying Malawi. The European Union was also expected to provide another 28.000 tons of maize for distribution. Most parts of the southern region received inadequate rains, the Famine Early Warning System Network (Fews-Net) said in a report earlier this year. (Malawi Standard, Blantyre)

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