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Malawi president declares state of disaster over drought



Malawian President Peter Mutharika has declared a state of disaster as a severe drought has caused a sharp decline in crop production across the African country.

“I declare Malawi (in) a state of national disaster following prolonged dry spells during the 2015/16 agriculture season,” Mutharika said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The projected drop in maize harvest is estimated at 12 percent from last year’s output,” said the statement.

“More people will be food insecure and will require humanitarian relief assistance for the whole of the 2016/17 consumption year.”

The declaration will help both local and international organizations solicit aid for the needy.

Malawian people made homeless and displaced due to heavy rains and massive floods queue for food at Chimwankhunda primary school in Blantyre on January 15, 2015. © AFP

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said it was currently assisting nearly three million people in Malawi, whose 23 of 28 districts are badly affected.

“The current drought situation in Malawi came on the back of a bad crop last year, due to flooding which affected parts of the country,” WFP’s southern Africa spokesman David Orr said.

“The situation is quite dire and we believe the worst is still to come. It will take a long time before the situations improves. Any improvement in the next months would be negligible,” Orr said.

WFP warned on February 15 that about 49 million people were at risk of being affected by drought in southern Africa, adding that 14 million people were already facing hunger in the region.

Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia are all suffering food supply problems, while South Africa declared the recent drought its worst in at least 100 years.

In neighboring Zimbabwe, more than a quarter of the rural population – comprising some 2.44 million people –does not have enough to eat.

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