July 19, 2016
The United States announced $20 million to assist Malawi with food security as the country deals with a current drought and famine.
The pledge was made during Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s three-day visit to the country, part of a three-country trip in Africa, which started in Ethiopia on July 16.
The fund (14 billion in Malawian currency), which will be provided through the UN World Food Program, will support vulnerable, food insecure communities in Malawi, and will bring the U.S.’s total contribution to the humanitarian response since October 2015 to $74.7 million (MK52 billion).
According to the 2016 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, more than 6.5 million people in Malawi are in need of humanitarian assistance, —an increase from 2.8 million people during the 2015’s agricultural season. Southern Africa, including South Africa is experiencing a historic drought exacerbated by the strong impacts of the El Niño weather event.
In April, the government of Malawi released a disaster declaration due to the extreme drought conditions in the country.
“The United States remains committed to supporting the region, including Malawi, during the difficult months ahead,” said Dr. Biden during a visit to a United States Agency for International Development -supported Food for Peace project in Traditional Authority Machinjiri.
Since 2012, the United States has provided over $151 million of food aid to Malawi.
The Obama-Biden administration urges the international community to quickly rally around the government of Malawi to help meet immediate needs as well as take steps to build resilience to recurring droughts and other climate risks occurring in the country and in Southern Africa, in general.
U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer, who met with Dr. Biden said the U.S. is “working very closely with the government of Malawi and other development partners to ensure hunger does not roll back the important development gains made in Malawi, particularly for women and girls.”
Through the USAID’s Feed The Future and Global Climate Change Initiatives, the U.S. is supporting activities that increases agricultural production and helping communities adapt to climate change, including mobilizing an early and integrated response to the El Niño’s impacts such as assistance to meet immediate needs and adaptation of development and resilience efforts to address longer term vulnerabilities, mitigate impacts, and protect gains made.
Dr. Biden’s latest trip to the African continent comes nearly a month after First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent trip to Africa where she visited Liberia and Morocco to advocate for girls’ education and women’ economic empowerment and opportunities across the continent.
A major theme of the Obama-Biden administration’s foreign policy has been to provide women of all ages with educational opportunities and economic empowerment, not just in Africa, but also in the rest of the developing world as well as the developed world, to encourage dialogue between governments and civil society leaders to advance girls’ and women’s economic liberation.
Dr. Biden, whose next stop in Africa during this trip will be in Niger, arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday, after which she attended and participated in a Girls Can Code project graduation ceremony- a Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)-focused school for girls. She also met with women civil society leaders and visited historical places, including the Ethiopian National Museum to see the famous Lucy, and toured the Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Center, where she saw the works of Julie Mehretu, an Ethiopian American artist, whose paintings have been exhibited all around the world and is now being shown for the first time in Ethiopia.
In Niger, Dr. Biden will meet with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou and other government officials and civil society leaders.
Niger is a key ally in Africa in the global fight against terrorist group Boko Haram.
Dr. Biden is traveling with Cathy Russel, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, as well as with Phil Karsting, from the Department of Agriculture; her Chief of Staff Sheila Nix;, and other officials from the State Department and the USAID. She is expected to return to the U.S. on July 23.
In 2014, prior to the Obama-Biden administration hosting the first US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C., Dr. Biden travelled to Sierra Leone and other countries in Africa.
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