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In southern Malawi, severely limited financial access to food is intensifying atypically high food gaps

  • Key Message Update
  • Malawi
  • September 2022
In southern Malawi, severely limited financial access to food is intensifying atypically high food gaps

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  • Mensagens-chave
  • Mensagens-chave
    • Despite being in the post-harvest period, multiple shocks and existing vulnerabilities are driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in southern Malawi, particularly for poor households with limited income, reduced coping capacity, and marginal household food stocks. The population in need (i.e., Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse) is expected to increase after October, including in the Central and Northern regions, as an increasing proportion of poor households deplete household food stocks and face severely limited financial access to food due to high prices.

    • Widespread deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes is expected across Malawi’s Southern Region from October to January, which overlaps with the lean season. Households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) likely have limited to no household food stocks and face significant barriers to purchasing food in the markets due to high prices. Households are likely increasingly  their use of consumption and livelihood-based coping strategies, including reducing the number of meals consumed per day, engaging in atypical labor migration, or selling household assets to purchase food.

    • Recent forecasts from FEWS NET science partners and regional and national meteorological agencies indicate diverging rainfall patterns based on regional climate patterns. In northern Malawi, a delayed start to the 2022/23 rainfall season is expected, with below-average rainfall throughout the season. In southern Malawi, timely onset with average to above average precipitation throughout the season is expected. Further, isolated extreme weather events are possible, including the likelihood of above-average cyclone strikes in southern Africa, increasing the risk of flooding in southern Malawi. Overall, the current forecast indicates a positive start to Malawi's 2022/23 agricultural season, with an increased risk of weather shocks. In contrast, below-average performance in northern Malawi will limit crop expectations. 

    • Food and non-food prices continue to increase, driven by deterioration in macroeconomic conditions and the below-average 2021/22 harvest. According to FEWS NET market monitoring data in August, the prices of maize, rice, and beans increased and remained above seasonal trends across the country. Maize prices were between 113 to 200 percent higher than August 2021 and 70 to 180 percent above the five-year average. Similarly, rice prices ranged from 31 to 133 percent above August 2021 and 45 to 127 percent above the five-year average. Bean prices were also higher by 13 to 83 percent compared to the previous year and by 38 to 189 percent compared to the five-year average. As a result, poor households are expected to have limited financial access to food through January, despite a seasonal increase in income from agricultural labor from October to March.

    • As of September, only 38 percent of funding required for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has been secured, according to the OCHA Financial Tracking Service. As a result, humanitarian actors have not yet mobilized enough resources to fully mitigate the impacts of back-to-back tropical storms, significant price increases, and the below-average harvest, particularly in southern Malawi.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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