The United Nations Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa has applauded the support shown by donors in helping millions of Malawians survive a major food crisis while urging stepped-up efforts to address long-term needs. After a two-day visit to the country, James T. Morris said that recent good rainfall could mean Malawi has a good harvest this season and as a result, for the first time in four years, could turn its full attention to medium-term and longer-term humanitarian projects rather than only focusing on immediate needs. “The Government, with the support of donors, should seize this opportunity to put in place development projects aimed at improving the lives of the poorest people, particularly children,” Mr. Morris said in Lilongwe as he wrapped up a five-day visit to southern Africa. Malawi could be on target to produce its best harvest in nearly six years if rainfall patterns continue as they have over the last two months, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which Mr. Morris heads. This follows last year’s harvest which was the worst in a decade and left nearly five million people in need of food aid, 2.8 million of them were children under the age of 18 years. The agency said donations from the international community prevented a humanitarian disaster. “The generosity shown by donors to support the people of Malawi has been overwhelming,” Mr. Morris said. “Some of the challenges for the year ahead will be to reduce the high rates of acute malnutrition among children, tackle food insecurity issues, address water and sanitation problems, and help the many people who are living with HIV/AIDS, including nearly 500,000 orphans,” he said. Morris praised the Government’s efforts to meet the food needs of many of its people through to the next harvest as well as its achievement in reaching nearly 38,000 HIV positive people with antiretrovirals by the end of 2005 – a steep increase from some 4,000 people it was reaching in December 2003. The UN’s ‘Flash Appeal’ for Malawi has received about $54 million of the $77 million needed.