The harvests in Malawi have been substandard for the last several years. The harvest of Maize in 2001 was at least 30% below the year before. In some areas there was drought and in others too much rain but the result was the same. This has affected countries throughout southern Africa - people are starving. In most areas, the people harvest one crop a year in the May, June time frame and then that has to last them the rest of the year - until the next harvest. When that harvest is poor, the people may run out of food and malnutrition or starvation is the result.
Malawi is now in that situation - the people are in a cycle of famine. It started getting bad towards the end of 2001 or early 2002. It took the outside world a while to take notice of what was going on, but eventually aid began to come in. Even though the 2002 harvest relieved some of the problems, it was generally a poor harvest due to a number of factors, so the famine will continue and even get worse later in 2002.
This famine is not unique to Malawi - many other countries in Southern Africa are also experiencing similar problems.
What can you do??
There are a number of WEB sites of organizations that are providing aid to Malawi and elsewhere in Southern Africa and it may be better to look at their sites for updates than to try to cover it in too much detail here. The first group of sites include opportunities to donate cash to help with the crisis. The second group contains lots of additional stories and pictures related to the crisis. Take a look at some of these sites:
SITES WHERE YOU MAY DONATE:
SITES WITH MORE INFORMATION ON THE CRISIS: