Exclusive Telephone Briefing: World Food Programme’s Executive Director to Brief on El Niño and Devastating Drought and Food Crisis in Malawi – the Largest Humanitarian Emergency in the Country’s History

Lilongwe, Malawi

July 18, 2016


Megan Rabbitt

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, is visiting Malawi this week to see the impacts of a devastating, El Niño-induced drought – the country’s worst in living memory – firsthand and urgently appeal for more resources on behalf of the 6.5 million people in need of emergency food assistance. The humanitarian emergency necessitates the largest humanitarian response in the country’s history.

Cousin will discuss the severe climate-related hunger crisis happening across southern Africa – one that is set to deepen in the coming months as stocks from April’s poor annual national harvests dwindle. Current funding for aid is inadequate, and Cousin will discuss the imperative of urgent action to avert a major disaster.

Currently, 18 million people in the region’s hardest hit countries (Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) are in need of emergency food support — a number that could surge to 33 million as the inter-harvest “lean” season progresses according to the latest Southern African Development Community (SADC) projections.

Malawi, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and most recently, Botswana have declared national states of emergency due to the drought; Mozambique has declared a Red Alert, its highest level of emergency; and eight of South Africa’s nine provinces have declared drought disasters.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which in mid-June categorized the region’s seven most drought-stricken countries a Level-3 emergency – the highest on the scale – is rapidly boosting its food and cash programs to meet immediate, life-saving needs and working with governments and other partners to better build the capacities of affected communities across the region to withstand future shocks, including an imminent La Niña weather event which could bring flooding to parts of the region later this year.

But funding is ominously scarce. WFP has secured only a quarter of the US$ 549 million needed for its relief operations until April 2017 in the seven priority drought-hit countries. The pre-positioning of vital food assistance is urgent in many places typically cut off by heavy seasonal October/November rains; the risk being all the greater due to La Niña.

Join Ertharin Cousin on an exclusive telephone briefing to learn more about her first-hand encounters and WFP’s work.

WHAT: Telephone briefing with WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin on Malawi’s drought and food crisis

WHEN: Tuesday, July 19, 2:30pm ET (7:30pm UK)

CALL-IN: code: 3304491715

Italy: 800 146 091

Singapore: 800 616 3185

South Africa: 0800 999 426

UK: 0800 368 0936

USA: 1-877-211-3621

*other local numbers available


Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme

Moderator: Aaron Sherinian, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, UN Foundation


Please email Eric Porterfield (eporterfield@unfoundation.org) to RSVP for this press briefing.