United States Provides $2.9 Million to Improve Malawian Children’s Nutrition with the help of UNICEF

11 February 2021
Jonathan Khwariya HSA(L) gives nutrition advices to Jausa Enock(r) as her mother Margaret James(middle) looks on.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Nyirenda

Lilongwe, February 11, 2021 – The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is contributing $2.9 million (MK1.9 billion) to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide nutrition support to vulnerable populations in nine drought- and flood-prone districts in Malawi.

This assistance will enable UNICEF to deliver ready-to-use therapeutic food to more than 35,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Malawi between now and June 2022.

USAID/Malawi Mission Director Catie Lott said: “We are honored to have made this contribution to Malawi’s nutrition story, especially for children under 5-years-old.  Because nutrition is critical to achieving a healthy and productive population, we will continue to leverage our strong partnerships with the Government of Malawi and UNICEF to do more.”

The treatment with ready-to-use therapeutic food is part of the Malawian government’s effort to save the lives of children and to reduce stunting, which is currently at 37 percent in Malawi. High disease burden among children (diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, HIV), inadequate food, low quality diet, and poor childcare and health-seeking practices are among the causes of malnutrition in Malawi.

Floods, drought, and other weather-related shocks worsen the situation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruptions in movement of people and transportation services have also affected fresh food supply chains and delivery of nutrition, immunization, micronutrient supplementation, and other health services for children.

Despite an overall decrease in the prevalence of acute malnutrition in Malawi in recent years, repeated climatic shocks have resulted in prolonged drought conditions and flooding in some parts of the country, which has worsened nutrition in affected communities. 

In addition to providing ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat malnutrition, the USAID-supported intervention will orient health workers, community volunteers, mothers, and caregivers on appropriate feeding practices for infants, young children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and the identification of severe acute malnutrition cases at an early stage and refer children for treatment.

“Nutrition is at the core of child health and well-being. Together with USAID and other strategic partners, we have been supporting the Government of Malawi to improve child nutrition and give children the best start in life.  This new funding will strengthen our work to identify and treat children suffering from malnutrition, a condition often worsened by disasters and public health emergencies,” said UNICEF Malawi Representative Rudolf Schwenk.

USAID continues to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance across Malawi through emergency food, nutrition, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene programming.  Previously, USAID’s partnership with UNICEF helped treat severe acute malnutrition in more than 30,000 children countrywide between 2016 and 2020.

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