humanitarian aid to Malawi
Malawi, a country in eastern Africa, has long battled with issues of governmental corruption, famine and widespread disease. However, in recent years, Malawi has seen vast improvement in important areas of societal life, with most of that improvement being a result of focused effort of international aid programs that increase the successful return of humanitarian aid to Malawi.

With 2017 having drawn to a close, the success of humanitarian aid efforts and investments to the country of Malawi are most noticeable in two distinct categories: technological advancements and food security.


In regard to technology, the most recent “hot-button” word in Malawi is drones. As of this month, UNICEF has reported the completion of a corridor for testing drones, the first of its kind in both the country, region and in the continent of Africa as a whole.

The corridor was built in the Kasungu district of Malawi, in the Kasungu Aerodrome, and according to UNICEF officials, the drones piloted in and out are planned to be used to further humanitarian causes and programs.

In a press release, UNICEF said that the drones would focus on aerial imaging, Wi-Fi and cell phone signals and transportation of goods, food and medical supplies — much like the drones that were built and piloted in the 2016 testing of the program. The early machines were put through various trials such as transporting dried blood samples from infants for HIV testing in remote clinics.

Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango said that the Malawi government was already looking into using the drones to respond to natural disasters like floods and fires.

Food Security

With food sustainability, numbers have improved dramatically from September and October’s low statistics. In late 2016 and early 2017, the majority of Malawian households reported a minimal to crisis level of food security, meaning that families didn’t know where their next meal was coming from, or if it was even coming at all. Malawian crops in recent years have been affected by both an unstable economy and a surge of armyworm infestations, as well as a long-lasting and regional-spanning drought.

Humanitarian Aid to Malawi

According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, humanitarian aid to Malawi has caused an 87 percent decrease in low food security for households in the Malawi districts of Balaka and Machinga.

Project Concern International (PCI), Feed the Future and Concern Worldwide distributed more than 22,800 crop storage bags, trained 225 households across 45 communities on the use of the bags and collectively raised over $500,000 to improve food security and agricultural sustainability in Malawi in 2017.

In addition, USAID/OFDA provided a total of more than $3.5 million in 2017 to partner organizations to aid in the recovery of water sanitation and hygiene interventions.

Heading into 2018, Malawi’s food sustainability and security is on the rise, the country has embraced new technological solutions to humanitarian crises and the future looks brighter than it has in years past.

– Arianna Smith

Photo: Flickr

Known to be one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi relies heavily on international aid, as well as support from financial institutions. They are a country which suffers from climate change, as well as a lack of resources to provide economic opportunities towards their population. As part of the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRFG) program, the aim is to continue with their economic agenda; emphasizing transparency and robust policymaking. Landlocked in Sub-Saharan Africa, they have been recipients of numerous international aid packages. The most recent case of humanitarian aid to Malawi came in 2016 and 2017 when a drought resulted in the direct aid to some 6.7 million people – 40 percent of the population.

When it comes to the word “drone,” negative connotations are usually affiliated with the term due to the influence of agencies such as the media and stories that relate to wars and violence. However, the creation of a revitalized air corridor in recent months by the United Nation’s UNICEF has the potential of distorting the misconceptions and revitalizing the way humanitarianism works. Africa could well have their hands on the first humanitarian drone to access remote areas far easier to provide assistance to some of the most vulnerable. The drone focuses on three primary areas:

  • Generating and analyzing aerial images for developing areas and assisting during humanitarian crises
  • Exploring the possibility of using drones to expand Wi-Fi or cell phone signals
  • Transporting medical supplies

According to Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango, these drones will not be used for the first time, as they have been previously used to respond to natural disasters. One of the contingent uses for the drones will be to deliver medical supplies to cater to the 1.2 million people (or a quarter of the population) affected by HIV/AIDs.

The lack of infrastructure impedes the ability for other vehicles to reach rural destinations where people are in need of the right medical testing kit and samples. With the humanitarian drone corridor now being tested, local communities will be able to observe the reduction in waiting time in receiving immediate medical assistance.

Moreover, this project has the potential of rejuvenating the way humanitarian aid to Malawi is operated, with many companies eager to test the use of this new air corridor. Apparently, 12 companies have already jumpstarted to apply and test this new device since its announcement at the end of 2016.

Over the last decade, Malawi has been in constant reliance on IMF aid packages, directed towards reforming government social protection programs. Much skepticism has been drawn from their human rights record under their former leader President Bingu wa Mutharika. Under his leadership, international organizations retracted the amount of aid they have administered in the past. According to Country Watch the “number of people facing food shortages in Malawi had increased since 2011 to 1.63 million.” With 65.3 percent of their population living beneath the poverty line, deployment of aid packages in destitute areas will be an effective tool in providing basic humanitarian aid to Malawi.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr