Malawi: Food Insecurity Emergency Appeal Operation Update (MDRMW012) - 18 April 2016

Summary: Malawi, typically a self-sufficient maize producer, suffered poor crop performance this year (2016) due to a late and erratic start to the rainy season, followed by damage from severe flooding in the southern half of the country, and periods of prolonged dry spells across most parts of the country for the latter half of the season. The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) report of July 2015 indicated that maize production reduced by 30% from last year. The national consumption requirement for 2015/16 was reported to be 3,000,000 MT of maize. The estimated maize deficit was therefore reported to be 223,723 MT.

The prolonged dry spells and floods not only affect maize production but other crops such as ground nuts whose harvests were down by 21%, rice 13% cotton and tobacco cash crop reduction was also down by 31% and 5% respectively. This left more than 2.8 million people in Malawi food insecure for a period of between three to 8 months, October 2015 – March 2016. 25 out of the 28 Districts in Malawi were affected. Of the 2.8 million people affected 886,204 were living in the hard hit flood-affected districts and 1,947,008 were in districts affected by poor rainfall. An estimated 20% to 40% of Malawi’s population were at that time reported to be in need of humanitarian assistance to help them cope with the acute food shortage.

The national market assessment conducted by WFP in July 2015 indicated that 40% of markets had the capacity to support cash interventions, whilst 60% of markets did not and therefore would benefit from in-kind/food distribution interventions. The peak price of maize on the markets during the lean period (October – March) was dependant on the government response to the crisis and levels of maize imported. National average maize prices were already at 61% above the three-year average at a period when prices were normally at their lowest. Price projections, based on month-to-month price trends, estimated that average national maize prices would likely be about 50% above the three-year average between July and September, possibly rising to levels that were 55% above the three-year average between October and December. During the July-December period, prices for alternative food commodities, particularly cereals, pulses, and cassava, would likely be about 20-50% above average prices.