Key Message Update

Food security conditions improve with the start of 2020 harvests

March 2020

March - May 2020

This map shows most of the country in Phase 1 (Minimal), with the exception of some southern areas and one northern area in Phase 2! (Stressed!) in the presence of humanitarian assistance.

June - September 2020

This map shows all areas of the country in Phase 1 (Minimal).

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

  • Most northern and central areas are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as households begin consuming own-produced food from the green harvest. Though humanitarian assistance distributions have ceased, premature harvesting (before the crop has fully dried) is increasing access to food among poor households in most southern areas. However, many households in southern areas affected by poor production during the previous season are still facing income gaps, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected through April. In May/June, households will likely access more significant income from crop sales, expected to support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes across most areas in the country through at least September 2020.

  • Overall, above-average production is expected at the national level. However, some localized production shortfalls are expected in areas of southern Malawi, with Nsanje and Chikwawa expected to be worst affected due to the impacts of erratic and below-average rainfall through early March. According to FEWS NET pre-harvest assessments in March 2020, many households in Nsanje and Chikwawa districts – especially those farther from the Shire River who do not access significant irrigation – will experience reduced production and exhaust food stocks atypically early. Some households are likely to face food and income gaps beginning in late August to early September 2020, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area-level outcomes expected in Nsanje in September.

  • In order to access some income, households are engaging in atypically early crop sales, selling partially dried maize at significantly reduced prices. In the central region, some small tobacco farmers have also started selling partially dried maize atypically early and at lower prices due to the government ban restricting vendors from buying tobacco from farmers, delaying and impeding farmers’ access to income from tobacco sales. Though no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Malawi as of March 30, preventative measures to date include closed schools, increased screenings at borders, and size restrictions on gatherings. No significant disruptions to trade or income-earning have so far been reported, though Malawi’s tobacco auctions have been postponed. Despite delays in accessing income, households are expected to access overall average levels of income from crops sales during the 2020 marketing season.

  • According to a FEWS NET assessment in mid-March, maize prices have declined slightly with the beginning of harvests in some parts of southern and central regions, increasing market supply and reducing demand as households begin consuming own-produced food. However, prices remain significantly above average. According to Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) data, March maize prices in Mitundu – the national reference market – were 90 percent higher than five-year average levels and 48 percent higher than prices observed at the same time last year. Maize prices are expected to continue decreasing in the coming months as more households start harvesting across the country, though are expected to remain significantly above average through at least September 2020.

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