Christian Aid Scotland has launched an emergency appeal to help support communities in Malawi through a devastating drought that has left 6.5 million people – around a third of the country's population – without access to enough food.
Reflecting the scale of the crisis and the depth of support in Scotland for Malawi, Christian Aid has made the unprecedented move of launching a direct appeal to its supporters in Scotland. At least the first £70,000 donated will be matched pound for pound by the Scottish Government's International Development Fund.
Background to the crisis
Malawi is facing its worst food crisis for a decade, following prolonged dry spells, erratic rainfall and last year's devastating floods, which destroyed food reserves, farm land and crops, sending food prices soaring.
'People are starting to use distressing coping strategies, such as skipping meals and eating wild foods; things that are not commonly eaten, like tubers,' according to Chiyambi Mataya, Christian Aid's Senior Humanitarian Advisor in Malawi.
‘The numbers needing urgent food aid in Malawi have risen from 2.8 million to 6.5 million people.'
With support from the Scottish Government's Climate Justice Fund, Christian Aid has been helping families in Nsanje district, one of Malawi's poorest areas, to improve water supplies and food security.
Last month, two solar-powered irrigation pumps were installed to enable farmers to water their crops even through the toughest droughts, protecting communities against future crises of this nature.
However the failure of the last two harvests has forced people to move away in search of food. Christian Aid's appeal will provide interim support so that farmers don't have to abandon their recently-sown crops or sell agricultural tools and land.
Launching the appeal, Head of Christian Aid Scotland Sally Foster-Fulton said, 'Since a State of National Disaster was declared in April, the numbers needing urgent food aid in Malawi have risen from 2.8 million to 6.5 million people. After the May-June harvest, the hardest-hit families only had enough food to last them one month.
'Without a major humanitarian response, the development progress made by the people of Malawi, alongside Christian Aid and other agencies, could be all but wiped out.
'That's why any short-term relief work must link to wider, long-term efforts to help Malawi's communities to withstand disasters that exacerbate poverty. Only then will the country stand a chance of breaking its cycle of food insecurity, once and for all.'
A Scottish appeal
Pansi Katenga, Christian Aid's Malawi Country Manager, based in the capital Lilongwe, said, 'Christian Aid in Malawi has made many strides in tackling the root causes of poverty that plagues countless communities in our country.
'That's why we need to provide immediate short-term support to these people, until it's time for them to harvest in three months' time – otherwise there's a real risk they could leave the crops and focus their attention on addressing their urgent day-to-day food needs.
'Therefore, any support we can offer them, through this emergency appeal, will save lives and will prevent the situation from deteriorating. So I appeal to the people of Scotland to join hands to safeguard the gains we've made, to save resources and to save lives. The cost of inaction will be huge in the long-run.'
Minister for International Development and Europe, Dr Alasdair Allan said, 'Worsening food shortages in Malawi caused by a severe drought mean 6.5 million people are now not expected to be able to meet their food needs in the coming months.
'As part of our ongoing role in addressing global challenges, the Scottish Government is committed to assisting the people of Malawi in this time of need. We will match fund, up to £70,000, every pound raised by Christian Aid's public appeal until 31 October.
'I would encourage people the length and breadth of Scotland to consider supporting fundraising efforts to assist Malawi at this critical time.'
What can you do?
You can read case studies from Malawi, find prayers for those affected and donate to the appeal on our website.
And, if you'd like to hold a collection in your church, you can download an appeal poster and order emergency appeal envelopes from your local office.
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