The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said farmers in southern Malawi urgently need seeds and livestock after flooding destroyed their fields and homes, washing away animals and crops and “threatening local food security”.
In a statement issued from its headquarters in Rome, Italy, the United Nations agency has also warned that government failure to respond promptly to the floods will have lasting consequences to Malawi.
“Flood-hit families risk harvesting nothing or very little this year, leaving them food insecure at the very outset of the agricultural season and undermining much of the progress being made in reducing food insecurity in Malawi,” said Florence Rolle, FAO representative to Malawi.
Available statistics indicated that due to the floods, more than 200 000 people have been displaced and some 79 deaths have been confirmed so far, while 153 people are still missing in Nsanje District alone.
In addition, an estimated 116 000 households have lost their crops and livestock with the most hard-hit districts being Chikwawa, Nsanje and Phalombe.
Rolle said local families need new livestock to ensure animal protein intake, adding that irrigation facilities should be restored before the dry season to ensure food production.
“FAO aims to work closely with the Malawi Government to supply them with short-cycle varieties of maize, rice, sweet potato, cowpeas, vegetable seeds and cassava cuttings for replanting as soon as feasible,” she said.
She tipped that long-term watershed management infrastructures are urgently needed so that even intense flooding is less damaging than this year.
According to her, FAO has been working closely with the government and other partners in Malawi to build more resilient livelihoods and reduce exposure to risks such as floods and dry spells.
President Peter Mutharika declared the country a State of Disaster after floods caused damage in 15 of the country’s 28 districts.