Key Message Update

New COVID-19 restrictions drive re-emergence of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in urban areas

January 2021

January 2021

February - May 2021

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist across most of the country through at least May 2021. With the start of the humanitarian assistance program, outcomes have likely improved to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) in most southern districts. However, in Chikwawa and Salima districts, improvement to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is expected in February when the assistance program is expanded to those areas. Assistance is expected through March 2021, with the harvest expected to support Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in April and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in May as households access income from crop sales. In urban areas, implementation of the COVID-19 assistance program continues to be delayed. Due to losses in income-earning following recent control measures as well as low levels of resilience among the urban population due to the first COVID-19 outbreak, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to have re-emerged in urban areas by mid-January, with improvement to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) now expected by March as the assistance program is implemented.

  • Since mid-December 2020, the number of new COVID-19 cases per day has been increasing rapidly, with the 7-day average of new cases per day reaching 994 as of January 25, 2021. As of December 11, Malawi had recorded 6,055 cumulative cases of COVID-19, with just 31 active cases and 186 deaths. By January 25, the number of cumulative cases had more than tripled, reaching 19,987, with 11,976 active cases and 518 deaths. In response, the government introduced a series of control measures in December and January, expected to remain in place in the near term (1 to 3 months). As of January 22, these included closed land borders, restrictions on trade activities, closed schools, office working hours reduced to essential services only, restricted business hours for markets and entertainment places, and public gatherings restricted to 50 people. In contrast to the restrictions in mid-2020, these restrictions are being strictly enforced. Malawi’s economy had not fully recovered from the first wave of COVID-19 in mid-2020, and renewed and stricter control measures are reversing improvements in economic activity and income-earning at a time when income-earning opportunities are already at seasonally lower levels.

  • In a divergence from typical seasonal trends, maize grain prices have remained stable at the national level in November and December 2020. Typically, prices increase during this time due to increasing market dependence and seasonal market stock shortages as the lean season progresses.  However, due to above-average national supply this year, prices have generally remained stable as farmers released their stocks onto the market to buy agricultural inputs for the current growing season. In December 2020, maize prices in FEWS NET monitored markets were trending at levels 24 to 39 percent below their corresponding 2019 levels and close to five-year average levels (5 percent below average to 13 percent above average).

  • As of January 25, 2021, cumulative rainfall for the 2020/21 season has been average to above average across the country. This rainfall and increased access to inputs from the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) have facilitated a very good crop stand, with most crops currently in vegetative stages and some in southern Malawi in flowering stages. Overall, average cumulative rainfall from October 2020 to March 2021 is expected across the country, with localized areas of above-average and below-average rainfall possible. At the national level, average to slightly above average production is expected. However, in Nsanje and Chikwawa, the delayed start of season and poorly distributed rainfall to date according to DCCMS are causing concerns for some localized below-average production.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics