Malawi – poverty and malnutrition
Malawi is a landlocked, low-income country with a rapidly expanding population, over 80 percent of whom are smallholder farmers. Poverty is experienced by most rural families in Malawi, with those headed by women suffering most.
Relying on small parcels of densely cultivated land for their livelihoods, rural Malawians are highly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters such as floods and droughts. Twenty-five percent of the country has experienced drought more than seven times in the last decade. Episodes of drought as well as severe flooding are increasing in frequency, intensity and unpredictably in Malawi, giving the most vulnerable households inadequate time to recover.
Smallholder farmers are currently suffering the effects of a prolonged El Niño-induced drought. These drought conditions and other factors greatly reduced the national harvest, leading to the second consecutive year of deficit maize production. Meanwhile, economic conditions remain precarious with high inflation, high food prices and limited opportunity for income-earning work.
Malawi’s food security crisis is made worse by a high HIV infection rate, which is the ninth highest in the world at 9.1 percent.