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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
IMF emergency aid for Malawi
Grain supplies
IMF aid will enable Malawi to import more food
The International Monetary Fund has approved an emergency loan of $23m to Malawi to help it buy food imports in anticipation of serious shortages later this year.

The IMF said starvation and malnutrition were already widespread in Malawi because of crop failures earlier this year, and decisive action was required.

Some 3.2 million people are faced with the threat of starvation in Malawi - one of seven southern African countries hit this year by famine resulting from drought and poor management of food stocks and agriculture.

Malawi women begging
People beg outside food stores

International relief agencies estimate that 13 million people in Malawi, Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are facing starvation.

In Malawi, the effects of the drought were made worse by the selling of a grain surplus in 2001, which reduced the stocks available to cope with shortages this year.

The government sale of the grain was said to have been advised by the IMF.

The Fund rejects this explanation and says it simply agreed with the recommendations of a Malawian Government study on food stocks, according to the Associated Press news agency.

People have not recovered

The IMF loan to Malawi will be used to import grain and other foodstuffs "to prevent large shortages expected later this year".

Malawi will need to import 350,000 tons of maize this year and aid agencies are expected to supply a further 210,000 tons of grain.

It went on to say that Malawi is suffering widespread malnutrition and starvation.

"Many households still have not recovered, and, with another bad harvest this year, decisive action is required," the Fund said.

The IMF Managing Director, Horst Kohler, has called on donor countries to come forward with more aid for Malawi and other drought-stricken countries in the region.

Aids and cholera

Malawi's famine crisis has been compounded by the continuing HIV/Aids problem there.

One fifth of Malawians are HIV positive and life expectancy has fallen from 60 to under 40 years.

In August, a serious cholera outbreak brought more misery.

Cholera is endemic in Malawi, with an average of 2,000 cases a year.

But this year, malnutrition rendered people more vulnerable and 33,000 cases and 1,000 deaths were reported by the Malawian Ministry of Health.

The lack of access to clean water, particularly in rural areas, is a major factor in the annual cholera outbreaks.


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22 Aug 02 | Africa
27 Feb 02 | Africa
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
28 Nov 01 | Africa
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