Church backs urgent appeal for Malawi

The Church of Scotland's World Mission Council is urging church members to support a new Christian Aid Appeal for Malawi, launched today. The appeal comes as 6.5 million people in Malawi are facing food shortages because of failed harvests across the region.

One of the worst-hit districts is Nsanje where Christian Aid runs a Scottish Government-funded Climate Justice Project.
One of the worst-hit districts is Nsanje where Christian Aid runs a Scottish Government-funded Climate Justice Project.

Rev Iain Cunningham, World Mission's Convener, said: “As Christians we are called to love our neighbour, today that call is for those living in Malawi, some of the most vulnerable people in our world. Let us first feed the hungry through this appeal and then seek to address the injustices in our world which are keeping people hungry.”

The Scottish Government has agreed to match up to £70,000 in funds raised in the appeal from its International Development Fund.

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, added his support to the hunger relief effort saying:

"As a life-long supporter of Christian Aid let me use the office of Moderator to endorse this urgent appeal.

"Having helped to raise funds for Christian Aid, knocking on doors during Christian Aid week and taking part in sponsored walks and events, I have also visited the projects supported by Christian Aid in sub-Saharan Africa and seen the difference such appeals make to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

"Let me encourage you to support this appeal as generously as you can, the need could not be more urgent, and you can be confident your gift really will make a difference."

Worst food crisis in 50 years

Head of Christian Aid Scotland Sally Foster-Fulton said:

“Since a State of National Disaster was declared in April, the numbers needing urgent food aid in Malawi has risen from 2.8 million to 6.5 million people. After the May-June harvest, the hardest-hit families only had enough food to last them one month

“Without a major humanitarian response, the development progress made by the people of Malawi, alongside Christian Aid and other agencies, could be all but wiped out. That’s why any short-term relief work must link to wider, long-term efforts to help Malawi’s communities to withstand disasters that exacerbate poverty.

"Only then will the country stand a chance of breaking its cycle of food insecurity, once and for all.”

Malawi, already one of the poorest countries in the world, is undergoing its worst food crisis in a decade. Last year's crops were destroyed in floods related to climate-change. This year the region has suffered from the worst drought in 50 years.

Children hospitalised with malnutrition

Carol Finlay, Twinning and Local Development Secretary for the World Mission Council saw the results for herself during a visit to Malawi last April.

Carol said “Fields which should have been heavy with crop ready to harvest were dry and barren and everywhere people were telling us of hunger and wondering how they were going to feed their families. Many of these people were already going to bed hungry.”

Clinics and hospitals were dealing with increasing numbers of children suffering from malnutrition and malaria,she says.

"After the crops failed last year, the Church of Scotland sent emergency grants for food aid in the early part of 2016. It was hoped that this would help in a small way to tide people over until their harvest. Unfortunately the harvest of 2016 has also failed."

Join hands to save lives

Pansi Katenga, Christian Aid’s Malawi Country Manager, based in the capital Lilongwe, said:

“Christian Aid in Malawi has made many strides in tackling the root causes of poverty that plagues countless communities in our country. That’s why we need to provide immediate short-term support to these people, until it’s time for them to harvest in three months’ time – otherwise there’s a real risk they could leave the crops and focus their attention on addressing their urgent day-to-day food needs.

“Therefore, any support we can offer them, through this emergency appeal, will save lives and will prevent the situation from deteriorating. So I appeal to the people of Scotland to join hands to safeguard the gains we’ve made, to save resources and to save lives. The cost of inaction will be huge in the long-run.”

Scottish Government will match funds to £70,000

The Scottish Government's Minister for International Development and Europe, Dr Alasdair Allan, urged Scots to contribute to the appeal.

“As part of our on-going role in addressing global challenges, the Scottish Government is committed to assisting the people of Malawi in this time of need. We will match fund, up to £70,000, every pound raised by Christian Aid’s public appeal until 31 October.

“I would encourage people the length and breadth of Scotland to consider supporting fund raising efforts to assist Malawi at this critical time.”

To donate to the appeal, visit Christian Aid's Malawi Appeal page.