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2005 Malawi Famine Review

Emergency Relief 2005 Malawi Famine

Drought and subsequent poor harvests, an extremely high poverty rate and the HIV/AIDS pandemic led to a severe shortage of food in Malawi in 2005. Almost five million people (a third of the population) needed emergency food aid, making it Malawi’s worst food crisis in more than a decade.

Family helped by SOS Malawi

SOS Children began an Emergency Relief Programme in November 2005 from its two SOS Social Centres in Lilongwe, the capital, and Mzuzu, in Northern Malawi. The aim was to reduce vulnerability to the hunger crisis for children, families and communities in the Social Centre catchment areas. Child headed households; households looking after orphans; houses that did not harvest anything due to drought; and malnourished children attending the nutritional rehabilitation programme at the SOS Medical Centre in Lilongwe, were given a ration of 25kg of maize, 10kg of beans, two kilos of salt and one kilo of vegetable oil per month during November 2005 to April 2006, when food reserves were at their lowest.

At the end of April 2006, the SOS Emergency Relief Programme in Malawi came to an end. It had been running for six months and had provided over 3,200 families around Lilongwe and Mzuzu with monthly food parcels. To avoid dependence on external aid, officials from the Malawian Ministry of agriculture provided training opportunities to young adults in agriculture. Training, which took place ‘in the field’, involved learning how to grow and tend crops.

There are currently three SOS Children's Villages in Malawi, three SOS Nuseries, four SOS Schools, one SOS Vocational Training Centre, two SOS Medical Centres and three SOS Social Centres in Malawi caring for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children. In the past year, Malawi has experienced a good harvest for both maize, which is the staple food, and the export crops like tobacco and tea. However, when food shortages and famine do threaten the country, SOS Malawi is well placed to carry out Emergency Relief Programmes thanks to its extensive community networks and past experience.

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