WFP appeals for $30 mln to feed Malawi

WFP, the U.N. food relief agency, has made an urgent appeal for $30 million to feed more than 1 million people in Malawi facing severe shortages due to prolonged dry spells and in large part a disastrous fight the former leader of the southern African country picked with international donors.

Government officials last week said the number of people facing food shortages has increased by 200,000 since 2011 to 1.63 million, which is 11 percent of the population

“WFP is appealing for urgent donations so that food can be procured and pre-positioned ahead of the rainy season when remote areas become hard to access,” WFP country director Abdoulaye Diop in a statement on Monday.

Prolonged dry spells, high food prices and economic difficulties have left many people across Malawi struggling to find enough to eat this year, the U.N.’s food relief agency, WFP, said.

Malawi had over the last several years enjoyed bumper yields because of a successful donor-backed fertiliser subsidy programme. But the donor mood soured after former President Bingu wa Mutharika told Western aid suppliers last year to stop meddling in the country, saying Malawi did not need the money.

Rising inflation caused by a devaluation of the kwacha has affected food prices and made it difficult for many to access it.

New President Joyce Banda’s government devalued the kwacha to bring it closer to its black market value and end a foreign exchange crunch under Mutharika that sparked shortages for items purchased abroad with hard cash including petrol and drugs.