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Dry spells significantly reduce harvests across the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Malawi
  • June 2015
Dry spells significantly reduce harvests across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • In June, Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes persist, in the presence of assistance, in parts of the southern and central region, while Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes continue in the traditionally surplus-producing north. Between July and September, some households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in parts of the south because of projected food deficits due to limited livelihood opportunities, above average maize prices, and below-average household production for the 2014/15 harvest. 

    • Staple food prices across the country remain around 10 percent above last year’s prices and nearly 50 percent above the five-year average. This price trend is atypical since immediately following the harvests prices are usually at their lowest. Higher prices are limiting food access for households in the southern and central regions that are relying mainly on market purchases because they did not harvest anything or very little this season. 

    • Informal cross border maize imports have remained lower than the five-year average due to a weaker Malawi Kwacha against the currencies of neighboring countries. However, month-on-month trends for May show that imports have increased since April and are higher than the same period last year. Maize exports from Malawi to neighboring countries, especially Tanzania, have almost dropped to zero.

    Current Situation
    • Recent field assessments and analysis in June show that households in 16 out of 28 districts across the country experienced below-average crop production during the 2014/15 season. Districts that are normally surplus-producing in the central and northern regions, are projected to have production this season that is 20-50 percent below the five-year average. These lower production levels are due to a late start to the 2024/15 season, followed by heavy rains, prolonged dry-spells, and then an early cessation of rains.  
    • Key informant and household interviews in June indicate that almost half of the districts in southern Malawi are already experiencing limited agriculture and domestic labor opportunities, reduced income from crop sales, as well as reduced access to irrigated farming crops and income. As a result, these households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), in the presence of assistance.
    • Although average maize staple prices decreased by about 10 percent between April and May, because of improved availability from the ongoing harvests, trends show that current prices are about 47 percent above the three-year average. 
    • Volumes of informal maize from Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia increased by 18 percent between April and May. Additionally, these maize import volumes are about 29 percent above last year’s levels, indicating an increase in demand due to below-average production across most of the country. 
    • Informal maize exports to Tanzania in May were 95-100 below the five-year average and 98 percent lower than levels during May in 2014. This trend is atypical for Malawi, since monthly trends for May show that on average (2011-2014) 4,733 MT of maize are exported during this month.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions discussed in the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook Report are still valid.

    Projected Outlook through September 2015

    Approximately 620,000 people were affected by heavy rains and flooding this season and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in the presence of humanitarian assistance through June. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected among flood-affected households, in the absence of assistance, between July and September.

    Additionally, FEWS NET projects that from July to September about 180,000 people in the south that were affected by drought this season will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), in the absence of assistance.

    Areas affected by drought in the northern and central regions are currently in Phase 1 (Minimal) and these outcomes are expected to continue from July to September. However, as households extend their livelihood activities and continue to face increased food prices, outcomes in some areas could worsen later in the consumption year. 

    Figures Figure 1. National average maize price trend comparisons.

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. National average maize price trend comparisons.

    Source: MoAIWD/ FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Malawi informal cross border maize import trends.

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Malawi informal cross border maize import trends.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    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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