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Acute food insecurity improves as humanitarian assistance and ADMARC supplies continue

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Malawi
  • February 2014
Acute food insecurity improves as humanitarian assistance and ADMARC supplies continue

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Due to ongoing humanitarian interventions and normal levels of ganyu opportunities, acute food insecurity among poor households in targeted areas has improved to Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes in the presence of assistance.
    • The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) is supplying its markets across the country with higher than normal maize supplies due to unprecedented access to Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR) maize stocks. Atypically high ADMARC supplies, together with the availability of humanitarian assistance have contributed to reduced maize prices across the country.
    • Due to the delayed start of the 2013/14 rainfall season, the start of the consumption of green maize and main harvests are expected to be delayed by a month, beginning in mid-March and mid-April, respectively.
    • By mid-January most of the country had received average rainfall, however localized areas have reported below average rainfall in all the regions of the country.

    Current Situation
    • Humanitarian assistance led by Government of Malawi (GoM) in coordination with the World Food Program (WFP) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is ongoing for about 2 million people across the country. 
    • Poor households in areas where humanitarian assistance is taking place were able to consume two to three meals a day which is expected in a normal year. Green harvests are expected to be delayed by about one month (from mid-February to mid-March) as a result of the delayed start of rainfall by more than a month. Poor households also confirmed that the humanitarian assistance is enabling them to concentrate of working on their own gardens instead of going to look for ganyu everyday to buy food. Poor households receiving humanitarian assistance are able to meet their basic non-food expenditure needs including grinding the maize, purchasing salt and soap.
    • Maize price increases have slowed down in comparison to the rate of increases projected earlier in the January-June 2014 Food Security Outlook. Actual maize prices averaged MWK 147.30/kg compared to MWK160/kg that FEWS NET projected in last month’s Outlook. Further analysis of maize prices for the month of January shows that maize prices actually decreased by about 4 percent between during January. Private traders in the rural areas in all the regions of the country have cited unprecedented maize supplies being delivered regularly to ADMARC markets in both rural and urban markets.
    • Rainfall is generally average across the country although below normal rainfall has been received in localized areas in all the regions. While most of the country has received average rainfall, there are a few areas in northern Karonga and southern Mzimba in the north,  northern Kasungu and southern Ntcheu in the center; and central Balaka, Nsanje and Chikhwawa districts in the south which have received below average rainfall amounts which could affect local food and cash crop production in those areas. 
    • First round national crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS) were released in February 2014 and have suggested that the country’s maize production may be about 10 percent higher than the previous 2012/13 season.  Approximately 4 million MTs of maize is expected, while cassava, sweet potato, sorghum, millet, and pulse production is also expected to increase slightly. A slight reduction in crop production is expected this season due to poor prices last season.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of January to June 2014.

    • Local maize traders will continue selling maize at prices higher than ADMARC but these prices will not reach the levels that were originally projected by FEWS NET in the Food Security Outlook report. It is now estimated that maize prices are likely going stay under MWK 160/kg during the February to March period because of better ADMARC market supplies,  among other factors.
    • Given the unprecedented and regular approvals for ADMARC to access significant maize stocks from the SGR for its markets across the country, it is likely that ADMARC will continue selling the subsidized maize grain in its markets during the months of February and March.
    • Prospects for the upcoming main season are mixed at this point and will depend on rainfall amounts in March and possibly April. Currently, the green harvest is expected to be available nearly one month later than normal (mid-March) due to the delay in the start of season.

    Projected Outlook Through June 2014

    Based on recent FEWS NET assessments and information from partners in all the livelihood zones receiving humanitarian assistance, the majority of poor households are able to meet their livelihoods protection needs. Therefore the acute food security outcomes in all the areas of concern for the February-March period have been revised downward from Stressed food insecurity (Phase 2!) to Minimal food insecurity in the presence of with assistance (Phase 1!).

    FEWS NET projects that between the months of April and June 2014, the majority of poor rural households across the country will likely access adequate food through a combination of purchases from markets and some own household stocks, and will be facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 4

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 4


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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