In late January, much of southern Malawi was severely impacted by Tropical Storm Ana. Almost 200,000 households were affected by the heavy rain and strong winds.

The devastation was so severe that a state of disaster was declared over the affected districts. Flooding destroyed food, crops, livestock and essential infrastructures, such as schools, health facilities and markets. Unfortunately, water points were also affected, exposing people to the risk of water contamination and the potential outbreak of water-borne diseases, such as cholera.

In particular, the Mulanje district, where PWS&D operates a number of programs, was one of the worst affected by the storm. Displaced households have had no choice but to camp out in schools and churches. Access to food is a critical issue.

 Women and Disasters  

While disasters are devastating for everyone involved, women and girls often bear a disproportionate burden. They face increased risks of gender-based violence as they gather water and firewood for their families, which can be far distances from the camp. Further, resources—including feminine hygiene products, soap and childbirth facilities—are scarce in a humanitarian crisis.

In Malawi, where men hold most of the authority and decision-making power within the household, husbands often make decisions about household purchases, creating one more barrier for women in the context of disasters.

PWS&D, with Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is supporting recovery efforts, by providing households with cash vouchers so that they can purchase food.

PWS&D Responds

Working with our local partner, Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD), PWS&D, with support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is assisting families affected by the storm—two cash transfers will be distributed. These transfers will ensure families can purchase maize, cooking oil and beans, providing immediate relief. This will prevent severe hunger and malnutrition, especially among women and children.

To help protect women and girls from gender-based violence, cash will be distributed in the camps first thing in the morning. Early distributions mean that shopping can take place during daylight hours, offering greater protection from abuse.

This project will assist 2,500 households—1,125 of which will be women-headed. A female member of the household will be listed as the cash voucher recipient in the remaining households.

The vouchers will provide much-needed support to families as they rebuild their lives after the disastrous event.

 *This project is receiving support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the Government of Canada. PWS&D is a member of the Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger.