By World Food Program (WFP)

LILONGWE, Malawi, January 23, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started distribution of high-energy biscuits to people stranded by floodwaters in Nsanje district, one of the worst-affected by floods in southern Malawi.

Some 77 metric tons of biscuits, enough to feed 77,000 people, were airlifted into Malawi from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai earlier this week. This ready-to-eat food is prioritized for the most vulnerable people, particularly children, who are displaced from their homes and have no access to food or cooking facilities.

Reaching the worst-hit areas to assess needs has been extremely difficult as many roads and bridges were damaged or washed away. According to latest figures from Malawi's food security cluster, some 370,000 people require urgent food and other relief assistance.

Within days of the President of Malawi declaring a disaster in 15 of the country's 28 districts, WFP began distributing maize, beans, vegetable oil and Super Cereal (a flour fortified with vitamins and minerals) to people displaced from their homes.

Distributions are continuing in some of the hardest-hit districts of Chikwawa, Mulanje, Zomba and in Phalombe, which includes the Traditional Authority of Chiwalo. This food was already in the country and was quickly re-allocated from the lean season response funded by the United States, Britain and Germany to help food-insecure people at this time of year.

Working with the Government of Malawi, UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations, WFP aims to provide food assistance to up to 150,000 displaced people by the end of this week. A helicopter is due to arrive today to support WFP's relief operation.

WFP has welcomed an announcement by the Government of Malawi that it is contributing 14,000 metric tons of maize from its Strategic Grain Reserve. Funding is now required to transport and distribute this food. Overall, WFP urgently needs US$18 million to continue its assistance to Malawi's flood victims.