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Localized food insecurity due to reduced income opportunities

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Malawi
  • September 2014
Localized food insecurity due to reduced income opportunities

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Households across much of the country are experiencing favorable food availability and access since most people are still consuming own production and market demand remains low. Nonetheless, poor households that experienced production shortfalls during the main agriculture season in Central Karonga (CKA) are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and affected households in the Middle Shire (MSH) and Lake Chirwa-Phalombe Plain (PHA) livelihood zone are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • According to forecasts provided by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC)-International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the chance of El Nino has decreased to 60-65 percent. In contrast, the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum indicates that normal to above-normal rainfall can be expected in Malawi during the main agriculture season, but advised countries to seek guidance and additional updates from the national meteorological services. The national forecast is expected to be released by the Malawi MET soon.

    • While the majority of poor households are projected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes between October and December, areas that faced localized production shortfalls and limited income generating opportunities will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in CKA and a food security Crisis in MSH and PHA between October and December. The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee found that 640,000 people will face food insecurity during the 2014/15 consumption season, however targeted assistance is not expected to begin until December.


    Current Situation
    • While most parts of Malawi are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1), a recent FEWS NET field assessment indicates that poor households in CKA in Karonga district are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, while poor households in Balaka, Neno, Mwanza, and Blantyre districts in MSH are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Mulanje and Phalombe districts in PHA are also in Crisis at this time. These acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue through December. Factors driving acute food insecurity in these areas include reduced 2013/14 production due to dryness and an early end to the rain, along with significant reductions in income generating opportunities, leading to constrained access through purchases because of above-average maize prices.
    • Average national maize prices in August are approximately MWK 79/kg and have only increased about 2 percent since July. Low market demand is likely to be contributing this stability.  The lower than normal maize demand in local markets is a result of much higher production in the traditional maize deficit areas resulting in almost 500,000 MT  in national surplus after post-harvest loses and industrial use subtractions. Another factor depressing prices is the absence of institutional buyers such as ADMARC and NFRA which have delayed purchases for national stocks due to funding delays. These institutional buyers and other non-governmental development agencies normally purchase maize grain in excess of 100,000 MT.  As of the end of August, few purchases for maize replenishment have taken place, so the national strategic grain reserves are at extremely low levels. There is a likelihood that entry of these institutional buyers in the market around the lean period may likely push grain prices up which could limit access for households which depend on markets for food.
    • Informal cross border trade maize imports continued to decline and decreased by 21 percent between July and August. Total imports from April to August were 41 percent lower than the five-year average over the same period. These import decreases are a result of the significantly lowered demand in local markets.
    • The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee have identified that approximately 640,000 people from about 116,000 households across 19 districts will face food insecurity during the 2014/15 consumption season for 2-4 months. Targeted households not expected to begin receiving assistance until December.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions discussed in the July Food Security Outlook are still valid. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the July 2014 Malawi Food Security Outlook.


    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    For the remainder of the outlook period (September-December) the majority of poor rural households across the country are projected to face Minimal food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1), with the exception of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) poor households in CKA and households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in MSH and PHA. Because of delays in the implementation of emergency assistance to these areas, outcomes are expected through December. 

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Source:

    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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