The Scottish Government has awarded more than £220,000 to a charity helping hungry children in Malawi as the country faces its worst food crisis for a decade.
Glasgow-based Mary’s Meals will use the money to extend its schools feeding programme, reaching almost 24,000 additional children in areas gripped by Malawi’s acute food crises.
The Scottish Government has backed the charity with more than £1.7 million funding since 2005, which, according to Mary’s Meals, has provided nearly 43,000,000 nutritious hot meals for more than 73,000 school children.
A further £230,000 from the government’s international development fund is also match-funding cash raised in Malawi appeals by Christian Aid, EMMS International, Oxfam and SCIAF.
The move comes as Mary’s Meals launches the urgent campaign, Crisis in Malawi, in an effort to
help lessen the devastating impact of the country’s current food crisis.
Southern Africa is facing its gravest state of food insecurity in many years – a combination of severe droughts and flooding has destroyed crops and devastated harvests.
In Malawi, one of the most severely affected countries, many families are on the brink of starvation and the Malawian government has declared a state of national emergency. The southern districts, where Mary’s Meals has a major presence, are worst hit.
Mary’s Meals currently provides more than 800,000 Malawian children with a nutritious daily meal in school, supported by a countrywide network of 65,000 dedicated community volunteers – often mothers who cook and serve the food for their children.
Through its Crisis in Malawi campaign, the charity is appealing for support to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of children who already depend on its school feeding programme can continue to be fed, while – as funds allow – expanding to reach even more children, in the most chronically food-insecure areas.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “This year, another food crisis is unfolding in Malawi. Many children are not able to attend school due to hunger and Mary’s Meals will now be their only meal of the day.
“This additional funding will extend our current support of Mary’s Meals schools feeding programmes in Malawi, and help break the cycle of poverty which has trapped so many generations before them.
“I also hope the public in Scotland continue to demonstrate their humanity and generosity by donating to one of the special Malawi appeals by Scottish based aid organisations.”
Alan Brown, executive director of Mary’s Meals, said: “We are extremely grateful for this additional support from the Scottish Government, which will ensure that thousands of vulnerable children who are struggling through a severe food crisis will be guaranteed one good meal every school day.
“This additional funding will allow us to reach a further 24,000 school children in the worst affected areas of Malawi.
“The Scottish Government provides wonderful support to Malawi’s poorest children through Mary’s Meals and we are very thankful that this funding will allow us to bring life-saving meals to even more hungry children when they need them most.”