By Bunmi Adigun @Bunmi_Adigun

UP TO two million people in Malawi are at risk of starvation due to an ongoing drought, according to the Malawian government

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Baby cries as she is assessed at the Mitunda Nutrition Rehabilitation Clinic

Brought on by the strongest El Nino ever recorded, Malawians have been forced to deal with unpredictable weather patterns which have brought about floods and drought, causing crops to fail.

British photographer and journalist Henry Wilkins took these pictures during a visit to Malawi with the World Food Program (WFP) in February of this year.

He visited parts of the country that are most affected by the drought that is currently sweeping through other southern and eastern African states such as Ethiopia and parts of Zambia.

Woman stands in her field where crops have failed to grow

While in the country the 32-year-old went to the Mitundu Malnutrition Rehabilitation Centre located in the central region where he snapped some of the powerful images.

He said: “I’ve done work around the European migrant crisis in Calais and what I saw at Mitundu affected me far more.

"I think the reason for that may be that although I met children in the Calais Jungle, none were on the verge of starvation or death.”

Woman counts money that she received at the cash distribution centre

The Malawian government has been working with a host of different international NGOs to try and provide provisions to the most affected - in the form of cash and food distribution.

Jeremiah Mphande, communications officer for Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), said: “The government, through DoDMA, has been providing both food and non-food relief assistance to all the affected people.

"The relief assistance package includes 50kg maize, 5kg beans, 1kg salt, 2 blankets, 1 plastic pail, 4 plastic plates, 5 plastic cups and 10m plastic sheet.

Toddler's arm is measured at the Mitundu Nutrition Rehabilitation Clinic

“Last year alone the government developed a 2015/2016 Food Insecurity Response Plan which required a total of US$146.38 million, targeting 2.8 million people affected by prolonged dry spells and floods. Out of 2.8 million people, 1.95 million people were affected by drought.”

The Brit visited farmers in Chikwawa in the south of the country, a region which has seen the worst of the droughts and floods.

Farmers were eager to show Henry the full extent of the drought and how it has left them with little in the way of food.

One of the farmers lifts her hands above her head to indicate how tall her crops should be

Henry said: “You will notice in the photos one of the farmers lifting her hands above her head to indicate how tall her crops should be.

"They have barely sprouted.”

The failed crops means that the farmers and their families will have to rely on food and cash handouts from the government and NGOs.

Young boy awaits food at a WFP distribution centre

This is a common sight in the south of Malawi as the region has been affected the most by the unpredictable weather pattern brought about by El Nino.

John Makina, Country Director for Oxfam in Malawi said: “In late 2015 the strongest El Nino ever recorded was confirmed, delayed rainfall and creating drought like conditions across much of the Southern and Central Malawi.

"Rains have been erratic with prolonged mid-season dry spells in most parts of Malawi especially the Southern region. Most of the crop fields especially in the Southern region have not performed well due to dry spells.“

The Malawian government have been working with NGOs

The onset of floods and a drought has seen a poor harvest of crops like maize, a key crop for the Malawian people as well as its economy.

John Makina said: “Rainfall during the rain fed maize season has been reduced by 50-74% of normal levels in around a dozen affected districts, and to less than 50% of normal levels in the worst pockets of the country.

"As a result, widespread reductions in 2016 maize harvest are now expected on top of the 2015 production deficits and flooding.”

Villagers queue up for at a cash distribution centre in Chikwawa

NGOs such as the WFP which is funded entirely by voluntary contributions has been on the frontline giving aid to the most vulnerable people in the country.

WFP spokesman for Southern Africa, David Orr, said: “Part of the food being provided by WFP to the most vulnerable has come from the Government’s national grain reserve. WFP is also providing cash-based transfers in areas where market conditions allow vulnerable people to buy their own food.”

Unpredictable weather brought on by El Nino has been the catalyst for droughts in the region, with neighbouring Zambia also suffering from a drought.

Toddler is measured at the Mitundu Nutrition Rehabilitation Clinic
Farmer and his wife stand in their field in Zambia

Many farmers were forced to delay planting new seeds during the planting season between October - December due to the fact that it was particularly dry during this period as a result of El Nino which causes a reduction in rainfall and produces unpredictable weather patterns.

David Orr said: “The numbers of people affected is likely to grow over coming months and into next year as the full impact of El Nino on the forthcoming harvest becomes clear.”