Malawi is among five countries in the southern Africa to benefit from £7 million (about K7.2 billion) British Government relief fund targeting people affected by a drop in remittances from South Africa due to coronavirus (Covid-19).
A new fund, set up by the FinMark Trust, which will provide income relief to more than 8 000 families in Malawi, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, was announced in a statement on Tuesday.
The financial support will also provide much-needed essential services and food assistance to almost 750 000 people, including 14,000 households and nearly half a million migrants who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
UK government acknowledged that the southern Africa region has been hard-hit by a prolonged drought and the COVID-19 pandemic has further deepened the food insecurity situation – 18 million people across Southern Africa are at risk of hunger for the remainder of this year.
Many low-income families in the Southern Africa region rely on remittances from family members based in South Africa. Estimates indicate that there are up to 3.7 million migrants from Southern African countries living in South Africa, sending R21.9 billion (approximately £1 billion) annually to family members back home.
An average of £15 per month will be provided to families affected by lost income from remittances, helping people meet immediate needs like food, rent and school fees. The UK is anchoring the the FinMark Trust fund with £500,000 in two tranches.
In a statement, James Duddridge MP, UK Minister for Africa, said: “For many communities across Southern Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health emergency – it is also damaging livelihoods and exacerbating food shortages. The support the UK is providing will help families in crisis across Southern Africa – many of whom are female-led households – improving access to COVID-19 information and basic services, and protecting livelihoods.
“UK action to support the flow of remittances will help those most vulnerable to the economic fallout of COVID-19 across Southern Africa to access the necessary money to meet their immediate needs.”
CEO of FinMark Trust , Brendan Pearce, said families across Southern Africa rely heavily on remittances.
Amongst such families, the economic fallout of COVID-19 has hit the vulnerable particularly hard, especially women and children.
“The Southern Africa COVID-19 Remittance Relief Fund has been established to bring much-needed support to these communities. We are working in partnership with financial service providers across the region to make sure that this money reaches those most in need as quickly as possible,” he said.
For Malawi, the implementing partners are International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Finmark Trust.