Food for Peace Watershed Management Project in Malawi
Using a multi-sectoral approach that brought together water capture and soil restoration, along with traditional programmatic interventions like support for small farmer market engagement, microfinance, and mother-child nutrition, Catholic Relief Services led a five-year USAID Food for Peace Development Food Security Activity in southern Malawi. Nearly four years after the end of the program, some 200,000 farm families are producing more food and coping with droughts better than before the project, according to a new USAID study.
Analyzing the sustainability of the Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA) project, the researchers discovered that 19 of the 24 project sites were resilient to the severe droughts caused by El Niño in 2015 and 2016, and either did not require any emergency food aid or required less than in previous droughts. USAID found that most of the communities continued to enjoy larger harvests and some were able to harvest one or two additional times per year.
Investments in building resilience to future droughts are one-fifth the cost of providing emergency aid. During one El Nino drought, USAID reported that emergency food assistance in Malawi cost $390 per household over 9 months. This is compared to the cost of building resilience in households reached through WALA, which averaged only $75.20 per year, or $376 over five years.