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Malawi map
UNICEF photo: aerial photo of flooded area © UNICEF/UN0288660/Juskauskas, Kunje & Chipukunya On 14 March 2019 in Malawi, aerial pictures taken by the drone task force captured the flooded areas around Marka, located right on the Malawi – Mozambique border.


In 2019, UNICEF and partners plan for:

people affected by drought, floods and choleraprovided access to safe water as per agreed standards


children under 5 immunised for measles


children under 5 years old with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) admitted into therapeutic feeding programme

2019 requirements: US$15,297,130

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Total affected population: 3.3 million3
Total affected children (under 18): 1.7 million4

Total population to be reached: 1.2 million5
Total children to be reached: 710,000

Over 3.3 million people are classified as in need of urgent humanitarian support due to consecutive poor harvests. These needs have been exacerbated due to Cyclone Idai which made landfall on 14-15 March. Heavy rains and fierce winds have resulted in severe flooding across 15 districts, affecting an estimated 869,000 people including 443,000 children.1 The most affect districts are Nsanie and Phalombe. The Government of Malawi declared a State of Disaster on 8 March. Displaced people have moved to over 100 different camp areas and seeking shelter in schools.2 The Government’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has deployed search and rescue teams to the hardest hit areas. The heavy rains and floods have severely impacted the country's agricultural production. Electricity and water supplies have also been impacted by the rains and floods and other critical infrastructure destroyed. The risk of disease outbreaks, which include cholera and measles, has significantly increased as a result of the floods.

Humanitarian strategy

2019 programme targets


  • 58,421 children under 5 years old with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) admitted into therapeutic feeding programme
  • 400,075 children aged 6 to 59 months provided with Vitamin A supplementation


  • 379,195 children under 5 immunized for measles
  • 424,071 children and women in humanitarian situations provided with access to health care services.


  • 495,960 people affected by drought, floods and cholera provided access to safe water as per agreed standards
  • 40,000 people affected by cholera and floods provided access to emergency sanitation facilities

Child protection

  • 150,000 children receive psychosocial support through safe spaces
  • 7,000 people reached by gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response services


  • 95,500 school-aged children in disaster affected areas including adolescents access quality education (including through temporary structures)
  • 2,000 in and out of school adolescents gain access to relevant alternative education services.


  • 10,000 women in disaster affected areas retained on HIV treatment for 6 months

Cash-based assistance

  • 14,500 vulnerable households receive cash emergency top ups

Communication for development

  • 495,960 people affected by disasters reached with key messages and call to action on life saving practices

UNICEF is focusing on providing immediate life saving and life sustaining assistance to populations affected by severe food insecurity and flooding, while also investing in resilience-building interventions. UNICEF is supporting the scale-up of Government-led responses that address the needs of the most affected children and families, including those with disabilities. In coordination with partners, UNICEF is seeking to reduce duplication of management costs by building on common pipelines where feasible. UNICEF will focus on delivering services through multi-sectoral responses in WASH, Health/HIV AIDS, Education, Child Protection, Nutrition and Social Protection, supported by communication and community engagement activities. UNICEF is supporting Government-led assessments through the use of innovation, including drones. UNICEF is establishing an operational field presence closer to the affected population to ensure the implementation of robust, well coordinated, flexible Government-led responses. Linkages of humanitarian and development approaches is being prioritized through collective outcomes and risk-informed programming. Capacity will be strengthened through existing surge response mechanisms, including cluster coordination, while UNICEF increases coverage and reach through working with Government and through additional partnerships. UNICEF will also work towards strengthening protection from sexual exploitation and abuse by establishing coordination structures to ensure crisis-affected populations have access to reporting mechanisms and assistance.

Results from 2019

In response to the cyclone, a UNICEF boat was loaned to DoDMA within the first two days of the flooding, to assist with search and rescue efforts. A UNICEF rapid response team was deployed to the affected areas with a coordination structure established in Blantyre. UNICEF deployed drones to assist with the search and rescue and to provide real time images of flood damage. To date, UNICEF has provided WASH supplies to nine affected districts, including portable plastic toilets, soap and water treatment chemicals. Information on cholera prevention has also been distributed. In the worst affected Nsanje District, 4,000 displaced people have been reached with safe water through expansion of existing reticulated water points. Nearly 14,000 displaced people were provided access to portable water in Chikwawa District. Hygiene promotion and awareness in the nine districts is also underway, including the distribution of messages. Community Based Child Care Centres, for children under five and “Children’s Corners” for older children have been established in 21 sites. Recreation kits have been distributed in 34 sites. UNICEF is dispatching additional supplies to the flood affected districts including tents for displaced people currently living in classrooms, various WASH supplies and learning materials.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$15.3 million to meet the urgent humanitarian needs caused by severe food insecurity and flooding caused by Cyclone Idai.6 Without timely and adequate funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s current crisis the areas of health, nutrition, WASH, child protection and education.

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1 2019 Flood Response Plan and Appeal, Government of Malawi.
2 Ibid.
3 Malawi: Acute Food Insecurity Situation for July-September 2018 and projections for October 2018-March 2019.
4 Calculated using percentage of children under 18 per 2018 population Census.
5 Calculated using UNICEF targets for WASH (safe water), child protection (community safe spaces) and health (immunization).
6 Of the total funding requirement, US$ 8.52 million is for the Cyclone Idai response.