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Scotland helps address Malawi food crisis

Published: 16 Mar 2016 09:30

£200,000 to help counter continuing food insecurity.

The Scottish Government has awarded £200,000 to help ensure some of the most vulnerable people in Malawi have access to food, International Development Minister Humza Yousaf announced today.

The funding will support Mary's Meals and UNICEF to continue their vital work to address a major food insecurity crisis in the country that has left 2.83 million people, including a million children, without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

The crisis is one of the long-term impacts of Malawi's worst flooding in 50 years, which struck the country in January 2015 leaving people in 25 out of 28 districts now facing food insecurity.

In December 2015 alone, more than 7,500 cases of severe or moderate malnutrition were identified and referred to treatment facilities.

Crops have suffered from the prolonged drought and food prices continue to rise. The production of maize, Malawi's staple food, has dropped by 30 per cent, while prices have risen by between 50 and 100 per cent. This combination of factors has created the country's first national food deficit in ten years.

Mr Yousaf said:

"Having access to safe, sufficient, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle should be an automatic right. This funding will help those most in need. We are committed to doing all we can to help our friends in Malawi to overcome the effects of the devastating floods.

"Scotland and Malawi have an important relationship which now spans over 150 years. We are rightly proud of the work we do in partnership, in areas including education, health, agriculture and renewable energy."

Martin Swinchatt, Country Director of Mary's Meals Malawi, said:

"The floods at the beginning of last year were some of the worst Malawi has ever seen, and many people lost their homes and livelihood. Since then, erratic weather, drought, and widespread crop failure have all contributed to the current food crisis and maize prices are incredibly high.

"We're very grateful to the Scottish Government for awarding funding at this critical time. By providing porridge to children in school, Mary's Meals is helping to support families whose children would otherwise be going without food. Throughout this period of food insecurity, it is even more vital to support hungry children with a daily meal while they learn, and we thank the Scottish Government for allowing us to help more learners and their families through our school feeding programme."

Lucinda Rivers, Head of Unicef UK in Scotland, said:

"The situation in Malawi is extremely worrying and doesn't show any sign of immediate improvement. Unicef is on the ground, working with the Government of Malawi and our partners to ensure children have access to food.

"In the past few months our humanitarian work has included screening over 230,000 children under the age of five and treating almost 13,500 children who were seriously malnourished. We are immensely grateful to the Scottish Government for supporting this work, which will help make a significant difference to the children affected by this crisis."

A public consultation to help shape Scotland's International Development Fund in the future is currently underway and will run until 20th May 2016. Building on the commitment given by the First Minister on 3rd November 2015, at the 10th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Co-operation Agreement, the Scottish Government is committed to continued working with the people of Malawi as part of our International Development work. A number of public discussion events are also taking place across Scotland – event details can be found here.

Views are being sought on the programme being more focused geographically in terms of the number of countries the Scottish Government is working in, adopting a more targeted approach in thematic areas and realigning its international development work to best support the new Global Goals.

Notes to editors

Mary's Meals sets up community-run school feeding programmes in some of the world's poorest areas, to encourage children into the classroom and give them a chance to build a better future. Currently, more than 1.1 million children are receiving a nutritious meal every day they attend school, thanks to Mary's Meals. Volunteer cooks take turns to prepare and serve the meals.

Unicef is the world's leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child. Together with partners, they work in 190 countries and territories focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow's children.

More details on the Scottish Government's International Development Consultation can be found online here http://www.gov.scot/Topics/International/int-dev/IDconsultation and the consultation accessed here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/international-development-team/meeting-global-challenges/