In Pictures: Malawi drought affects 6.5 million people

Across all 28 districts in Malawi, an estimated 6.5 million people are currently affected by one of the strongest droughts on record, the majority in the southern and central regions. Induced by the El Niño weather phenomenon, the lean season is expected to continue through March 2017.

UNICEF estimates that 3.5 million children are among those hit hardest by the pervasive drought. In June, 3,515 children under the age of five were treated for severe acute malnutrition. That is a 49 per cent increase from the same month the previous year. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


Maize production has dropped approximately 15 per cent from 2015's below-average production. With maize production down across southern Africa, the Government of Malawi is expected to increase imports of the staple grain, largely from outside the region. The price of maize peaked in February and has since dropped but still remains 56 per cent higher than last year. (FAO) Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


As water sources dry up, the potential for disease outbreak increases. More than 1,700 cases of cholera have been reported with at least 46 deaths. Cases of typhoid have also surfaced, mainly in the southern region. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


Through an emergency appeal, the Malawi Red Cross Society, with the support of the IFRC, is providing mobile cash transfers to 5,000 families for 18 months. The initiative will benefit 25,000 people most affected by the drought. In the medium term, the Red Cross will support agricultural production to 1,000 households through the provision of agricultural inputs in the form of hybrid seeds of maize, and top and base fertilizers for the 2016 - 2017 growing season. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


To build resilience to climatic events, the Finnish Red Cross, in support of the Malawi Red Cross Society, initiated a long term integrated food security and livelihood project. A village savings and loan cooperative has been formed. Now consisting of more than 20 women, this group meets once a week, during which each member contributes 1,000 Kwacha ($1.37 US dollars). A further 100 Kwacha (.14 US cents) is also collected from everyone and put into a welfare fund. The women can borrow from this pool of money, and must repay it, plus interest, within the coming months. It is all carefully documented by one of the women who has been trained in record keeping. The women have borrowed money to start businesses and improve their homes. To date, no one has not repaid their loan on time. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


Ellena Kenford, 28, borrowed 100,000 Kwacha ($137 US dollars) from the savings and loans group to build her village’s first shop. A shop owner for three years, Kenford and her family are now more resilient when challenging times arise. “My life has changed tremendously," says Ellena. "Before I had this shop, I had to beg for everything that I needed to support my life. But now, I have everything. I make my own decisions on what I should buy and how my life is going.” Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


Women in Ilemba village, Mwanza district, southern Malawi who have seen their resilience to weather events improve due to a long term small scale investment by the Malawi Red Cross Society and the Finnish Red Cross. Now part of the village's savings and loans group, the women say they are  more independent, and don't need to rely on men as much for support. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC