New Zealand's largest youth fundraising event, the World Vision 40 Hour Famine, is back for its 45th year, with close to 1000 Waikato students set to take on a challenge or give something up – and it's all in the name of supporting climate vulnerable communities in Malawi.

Spread across 40 hours from Friday, June 5 to Sunday, June 7, in all 90,000 New Zealand youths are expected to take part and raise funds for the people of Malawi who are experiencing the chaos caused by extreme weather events, like droughts, cyclones and floods, that are resulting in food shortages, hunger and malnutrition.

On top of this, Covid-19 has brought with it added pressure for these communities.

This year, five Kiwi Youth Ambassadors – Izaac Wilson, Jess McLennan, Alyssa Wilson, Daniel Rickman and Hayley Gotlieb – are championing the 40 Hour Famine, having travelled to Malawi in late 2019 to meet some of those who will benefit from the efforts of everyone taking part; children, families, schools and farmers who've been impacted by extreme weather.


"I don't think there was really any one moment when it just clicked for me that 'this is the reality of living in Malawi in 2020', but it has sunk in a little more every single day since I've been back in New Zealand," says McLennan.

"It's in the everyday moments that I think about everyone I met and what I saw in Malawi, like when I look at my mum cooking dinner and think to myself, I wonder if Prisca's mum has enough has food to cook meals for her kids today?

"Or when I pull veges out of the fridge and think to myself, I hope Yohane's family have had a good harvest, so they have food to eat," she says.

World Vision New Zealand national director Grant Bayldon says this year it seems all the more crucial for the charity organisation to provide a platform for NZ youth to rally together and make change.

"As the world shifts, the challenges Malawians face remain – and this means more than ever, we need to do all we can to fight hunger and injustice.

"This is our chance to show the world what great global neighbours we can be. As we do what we can for the vulnerable here, let's also do what we can for the most vulnerable around the world."

Money raised in the 2020 40 Hour Famine will make a difference by providing schools and farmers with seeds for crops, watering systems and goats.

This important work will also ensure they're able to better cope with external factors out of their control, be it extreme weather events or a new virulent virus.


Those who take part can choose their own challenge or select something to give up – like going without transport, furniture or technology – and ask people to support their efforts by donating.

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More than three million New Zealanders have participated in the 40 Hour Famine since it began.

In Malawi - a landlocked country in southeastern Africa - extreme weather events are causing loss of crops for communities who rely so heavily on them – 71.9 per cent of Malawians are subsistence farmers who rely entirely on what they can grow to survive.

One bad yield, due to drought or flooding, can mean the difference between surviving and children going to bed hungry.

World Vision is working with communities in Malawi to help them adapt to and mitigate extreme weather conditions, so their human rights are safeguarded and realised.