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- As Malawi enters the lean season in October, districts in southern Malawi affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, including Chikwawa, Nsanje, Phalombe, Balaka, and parts of Mwanza, Neno, Zomba, and Blantyre districts, are anticipated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes that are likely to persist through early 2024. Lakeshore areas in Salima, Nkhotakota, and Karonga districts in central and northern Malawi are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes, along with the areas of central Karonga livelihood zone that experienced severe dry spells and heavy flooding early in the planting season. However, most areas in central and northern Malawi will likely continue experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.
- The lean season is expected to start atypically early in October, as food stocks are below average and poor households have already started to rely on markets to access food amid high food prices Additionally, humanitarian assistance has been insufficient and inconsistent to prevent food consumption gaps. While maize is available on the market, household access is limited due to high prices and below-average household incomes. FEWS NET’s rapid market and food security assessment in September confirmed most very poor households have started to adopt negative coping mechanisms. These include consuming maize bran, reducing the number of meals, and withdrawing children from school in order to work. Additionally, some households have resorted to consuming a wild tuber called nyika, wild seeds, and unripe mangoes.
- Maize grain prices across the country have continued to rise, even during the harvest period for winter production in certain areas. Between July and August, the monitored markets observed an average increase of 15 percent in maize grain prices, with the highest reported increase at the Lilongwe market, where prices were approximately 30 percent higher than last month. All monitored markets showed an average increase of about 120 percent compared to the previous year and around 250 percent compared to the five-year average. Furthermore, prices for alternative foods have also significantly increased. Rice prices, on average, increased by about 5 percent over the previous month, 45 percent over the previous year, and around 115 percent above the five-year average. Similarly, bean prices rose by nearly 5 percent over the last month, 25 percent over the last year, and 80 percent over the five-year average. Rising prices for both maize and alternative food staples are limiting access to these essential food items, particularly for poor and very poor households.Top of Form
- A strong El Niño event is expected in late 2023 and early 2024, which is expected to result in a delayed onset of the main rainy season and below-normal rainfall in southern Malawi. This, in turn, is anticipated to negatively impact crop performance and lead to a below-normal agricultural production season. Moreover, most districts in southern Malawi have not fully recovered from the impact of the cyclone, and households continue to have limited access to essential agricultural inputs and farming equipment. Since affected households have not had sufficient time and assistance to recover from their previous losses, there is an urgent need for timely intervention by the government and other partners to prevent the worsening food security outcomes in these areas.
Recommended Citation: FEWS NET. Malawi Key Message update, September 2023. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected amid high food prices and insufficient assistance, 2023.
This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.