Fighting the looming hunger in Malawi

Malawi continues to suffer from El Niño’s devastating impacts. The country is experiencing its worst food insecurity and nutrition crisis in over a decade. The dire nutrition situation is hardest on children: More than 100,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.


Fighting the looming hunger in Malawi

Severe floods and droughts have brought hardship and suffering to millions of people in Malawi, due in part to the extreme El Niño that occurred in 2015. 6.5 million people, including 3.5 million children, are in need of food assistance. This represents almost 40 per cent of the country’s population.

Even before this national nutrition crisis, only 15 per cent of Malawian children aged between 6 and 23 months were receiving the minimum diet necessary to support their growth and development. More than 42 per cent of all children in Malawi were stunted due to chronic malnutrition.

This fragile situation for children is crumbling in the face of the household food security crisis and deteriorating rapidly. By now, the nutrition crisis affects all 28 districts in Malawi. More than 100,000 children under the age of five are estimated to suffer from severe acute malnutrition. If they don’t receive the necessary treatment, their lives are in danger.

Responding to this threat, MSC has become UNICEF’s strategic partner in a dedicated project to treat malnutrition in 25 emergency-affected districts of Malawi, aiming to save 100,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition by December 2018.

Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition without medical complications receive ready-to-use therapeutic food, a nutrient-dense peanut-based paste, over a period of six to eight weeks. They can be treated at home by their parents or caregivers. Children with medical complications, however, are initially treated with therapeutic milk and routine medications in health facilities, as their bodies are not yet strong enough to consume food. Once these children are stabilized, they can return to home and will receive ready-to-use therapeutic food until they have completely recovered.

UNICEF not only ensures the pre-positioning of critical lifesaving nutrition supplies and their delivery to the last point of distribution in health facilities, but also supports capacity building of district health workers. This approach enables community volunteers to identify and initiate treatment for children with acute malnutrition before they become seriously ill. Caregivers can then provide treatment for the majority of these children at home using ready-to-use therapeutic foods and routine medical care.

In addition, UNICEF supports awareness raising among mothers and caregivers of under-five children, encouraging them to have their children screened for malnutrition. Mobilization takes place through community dialogues, social marketing campaigns and radio programmes. The messages highlight the importance of having children screened and the health dangers associated with malnutrition. These activities contribute significantly to the mobilization of young mothers to have their children screened.


MSC Cruises supports UNICEF’s work through the «Get on Board for Children» initiative, collecting donations from guests and selling UNICEF products on board of all MSC Cruises ships.

Since the beginning of the partnership, MSC and its guests have collected 6.5 million euro for children in need.



You can help too!

Your donation will support UNICEF’s therapeutic feeding programmes in Malawi. We extend our heartfelt thanks to you for helping to save children’s lives.

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