Britain gives Malawi $4.7 million for food aid

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 14, 2012 7:22 AM
Britain gives Malawi $4.7 million for food aid

BLANTYRE, Malawi (Reuters) - Britain has given $4.7 million to Malawi for food aid as more than 1.6 million people face food shortages in the impoverished southern African nation, British officials and the U.N. World Food Programme said on Tuesday.

Malawi's economy was driven to the brink of collapse after foreign aid dried up over concerns about the human rights record of former President Bingu wa Mutharika.

New President Joyce Banda, who came to office in April after Mutharika died of a heart attack, has moved swiftly to woo back donors, whose support previously accounted for about 40 percent of the budget.

Britain's contribution takes the total international aid for Malawi's new government to more than $500 million.

The International Monetary Fund approved a $156.2 million loan in July to boost economic growth, while the United States restored a $350 million aid programme to overhaul Malawi's decrepit electricity grid in June.

The British funds will help about 715,000 people, the British government's Department for International Development and the World Food Programme said.

"Prolonged dry spells, high food prices and economic difficulties have left many people across Malawi struggling to find enough to eat this year," they said in a joint statement.

The number of people facing food shortages in Malawi has increased by 200,000 since 2011 to 1.63 million, which is 11 percent of the population, a report by the Malawi government and U.N. relief agencies showed in July.

The landlocked nation has been reaping bumper crops of maize, its staple food, but is a net importer of other food items.

(Reporting by Frank Phiri; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda and Pravin Char)