WFP purchases maize from Malawian farmers to provide assistance to the growing refugee population in Malawi. In boosting local market activity and meeting the food needs of the refugees, everyone benefits.

The World Food Programme has been giving food assistance to refugees in Malawi for the past 10 years. Each month, they receive rations of maize, pulses, vegetable oil and Super Cereal (fortified corn soya blend). Thanks to a contribution from the Government of Japan, WFP has this year also been able to provide Super Cereal Plus which is particularly efficient in addressing micronutrient deficiencies in children.

Such assistance is vital to women like Clementine Bamba who reached Malawi’s Dzaleka refugee camp in the year 2000, after her husband was killed in fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While Clementine and her children are no longer living in fear, their life remains challenging. Refugees have very limited access to arable land and other means of earning a living. Like most in Dzaleka, Clementine relies on food and material assistance provided by the government of Malawi with support from WFP, the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other partners.

Lifeline for refugees

Almost 75 percent of WFP’s food assistance is locally procured – this provides a lifeline to the refugee population and also benefits Malawian smallholders by stimulating the local economy.

Using a cash contribution from USAID, WFP earlier this year purchased some 430 tons of maize for distribution in Dzaleka from members of the Kafulu farmers’ organization (FO), a nearby smallholder farmers’ co-op that is also supported by WFP’s Purchase for Progress initiative. The purchase was made through the warehouse receipt system, which allows farmers to deposit maize in WFP-certified warehouses in return for a receipt that serves as collateral for a bank loan while they wait for market prices to rise.

“The system is very good because once we deposit commodities at the warehouse we can use our receipt to get bank loans, which are important for meeting urgent costs such as school fees,” says Michael Banda, a member of the Kafulu FO.

Everybody benefits

By linking its programmes, WFP is helping to strengthen the resilience of local communities while at the same time fighting hunger among the refugee population.

“The WRS allows our farmers to make more profit from sales, and we are happy that the crop we produce can also be used to help those who are struggling,” says Kafulu FO chairman Alikipp Ndata. “Everybody benefits.”

Today, there are more than 18,000 refugees living in Dzaleka, most of them from the DRC. With hundreds more arriving each month, the camp’s population is currently at its highest in 10 years.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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