Why We’re Giving Away Food in Malawi

by | Apr 4, 2017

At One Day’s Wages we talk a lot about “sustainable development,” in other words, development that doesn’t just meet the needs of the vulnerable now, but takes strategic steps to make sure anti-poverty programs meet needs long into the future. If this is one of our core values, then you might be wondering why we would advocate for a project that gives away food.

A little context

The Southern Africa food crisis has been building for years. Successive years of drought, compounded by a two-year-long El Nino event through early 2016, has risen temperatures and created some of the driest conditions for Southern Africa in over 30 years.

Dry conditions for countries already experiencing extreme poverty means water shortages, as well as reductions in crops and livestock production. In Malawi, conditions are particularly extreme. 1 in 4 people currently live in extreme poverty. The food crisis has hit communities here hard, depleting regional food stocks. 7 million of the 17 million people currently living in Malawi have been affected. And with high food prices and limited opportunity for other income generation, Malawians have few options (World Food Programme). Local leaders and global experts are in agreement that this could become one of the most serious and widespread food crisis in decades. What does this mean? It means people need food. Right. Now.

So what exactly are we doing about it?

Throughout our work over the last 8 years, we’ve addressed several food crises, including the drought in the Horn of Africa, and food shortages in Niger. To tackle the Southern Africa food crisis, we wanted another trusted partner who was already on the ground; who understood the complexities of working in low-income, drought-affected areas; and who valued community participation.

That’s why we chose to partner with World Relief. With an office currently in Malawi, they have had a firsthand look into this crisis. World Relief also has a unique approach, which is to directly partner with local churches–empowering them to be a resource in leading communities out of poverty.

World Relief estimates that 80% of those affected by the food crisis in Malawi are farmers. When farmers are unable to grow crops or sell produce in the marketplace, they are unable to feed their children–nearly 50% of children are severely malnourished. Compound this with chronic disease and lack of clean water–entire food systems fail.

The food crisis in Southern Africa is severe, but there is still hope. We’re partnering with World Relief and their local church community in central Malawi to address the ongoing food shortage and bring, not only relief, but rehabilitation.

According to World Relief, local churches throughout Southern Africa are already delivering emergency food shipments and providing critical nutritional supplies to children who are malnourished right now. But just as you are concerned about the sustainability of these projects, we are too. That’s why we’re not only coming alongside World Relief and their local church network to provide emergency food relief in the short term, we’re also supporting World Relief’s efforts to train farmers in sustainable agricultural practices, and help communities become more resilient so they can be better prepared for future crises. To learn more about this project click here.

Join Us

The exciting news is that thanks to a generous church donor, our 50K matching grant has already reached its goal, meaning we can give 100K to provide families in central Malawi with urgently needed food and sustainable incomes. But this isn’t the end of the story. There is still much more work to be done.

You can join this partnership by sharing about this crisis with your community. You can also help us exceed our goal by donating any amount to alleviating the food crisis in Southern Africa here. Together, we can make an impact in Malawi.


Melissa Pack is the Communications Director at One Day’s Wages. She lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband and papillon.

Photos by Sean Sheridan

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