Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has declared four state of disasters since coming to office in 2020. / Photo : Reuters

The southeast African nation of Malawi has declared a state of disaster in 23 of the country's 28 districts severely affected by the El Nino-induced dry spells and flooding "to allow humanitarian support to flow in and to contain the situation."

In his address to the nation on Saturday evening, President Lazarus Chakwera said: "Our preliminary assessment indicates that 2 million farming households have been affected and 700,000 hectares of maize (the county's staple) have been damaged representing 44% of the national crop production."

The Malawi government also appealed for a quick humanitarian response from its development partners and citizens at home and abroad to avert a humanitarian crisis that has put around two million farming households at risk of starvation.

"These districts have experienced erratic rains, flooding, and prolonged dry spells which have severely damaged crops and prospects of food production," Chakwera noted.

Fourth state of disaster for Chakwera

He said the country urgently requires 600,000 metric tonnes of staple food to "prevent possible loss of lives."

"I'm calling on all Malawians of goodwill both at home and abroad, non-governmental organisations, and the international community who have any resources in cash or kind to spare, to avail those resources to Presidential Initiative to Stop Hunger for this humanitarian response programme," the president stressed.

Since he assumed power in 2020, this is the fourth time that Chakwera has declared a state of disaster. In March 2023, Cyclone Freddy killed more than 1,500 people across the country and displaced about one million others.

The county is still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the cyclone. The government's Post-Disaster Needs Assessment claims that the total loss and damages exceeded $1 billion.

In its regular update earlier this month, the World Meteorological Organization said the 2023-24 El Nino weather phenomenon has peaked as "one of the five strongest" on record.

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