Meal app supports food relief in drought- affected Malawi

Some of the children in Malawi whom the ShareTheMeal community currently supports

The World Food Programme’s ShareTheMeal app will raise funds to support emergency food relief in Malawi, following one of the strongest El Niño weather events on record. The aim is to provide school meals for an entire year to 58,000 school children in Zomba, a district in southern Malawi severely affected by drought and experiencing high levels of food insecurity.

“A donation of US$0.50 will provide children in need with vital nutrition for the day so he or she can stay healthy and be able to go to school as well as concentrate on his or her studies,” Sebastian Stricker, Head of ShareTheMeal Initiative, Innovation and Change Management Division, told The Source. “Our current goal is to provide school meals to 58,000 schoolchildren in Zomba, an area particularly affected by the El Niño drought, for an entire year. School meals provide a strong incentive to send children to school and keep them there.”

The children, aged 6-13 years, will receive a specially fortified porridge, through the World Food Programme’s (WFP) school meals programme that supports the Government of Malawi’s National Social Protection Programme. A daily hot meal at school has been shown to boost attendance and improve children’s ability to learn. Zomba district suffers from low enrolment, high dropout and repetition rates, and wide gender disparities in schools, all of which are likely to be aggravated during this time of crisis.

Through the free ShareTheMeal app, smartphone users can donate as little as US$0.50 to provide food to a vulnerable child for a day. Estimations in Malawi show that for every US$1 spent on school meals, at least US$6 are returned in better health and productivity when these children become adults.

“The food security situation in Malawi is complex, especially as it
is compounded by climatic shocks such as floods and drought,” added Stricker. “A key way to break the cycle of hunger is through better seamless transition from relief, recovery to resilience building. In addition to WFP’s ongoing development programmes, such as school meals and treatment of malnutrition, WFP is progressively linking up with recovery and resilience–building by increasing investment in productive asset creation and value chain and livelihood support.”