Malawi: Acute Food Insecurity July - September 2019 and Projection for October 2019 - March 2020

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How Severe, How Many, and When: In the current period – July to September 2019 – around 0.67 million people are estimated to be in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and require urgent humanitarian assistance. 2.9 million people are estimated to be in IPC Phase 2 (Stress) and require livelihood support. In the projected period, which covers the lean season from October 2019 to March 2020, 1.06 million people are estimated to be in IPC Phase 3, and 3,58 million people are estimated to be in IPC Phase 2. The districts that are classified under Phase 3 which are likely to require urgent action are concentrated in the southern districts. Three districts are in Phase 3.

Where and Who: The most affected districts are in the southern region, in total 15 in number, and the worst off are located within the area affected by the floods.

Why: The main drivers of food insecurity in Malawi this season include floods, dry spells, infestations of the Fall Armyworm, and high prices for staple foods compared to last year and the 5-year average.


The Malawi economy is estimated to grow by 5 percent in 2019, primarily driven by growth in the agricultural sector. Annual inflation is expected to continue to decline, averaging 8%, owing to continued macro-economic stability.

The current food insecurity is mainly driven by climatic shocks such as Cyclone Idai, which resulted in flooding in the districts that border Mozambique in the southern parts of Malawi. It is estimated that 975,000 people were affected by the floods. The 15 affected districts were Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Zomba districts in the Southern Region and Dedza and Ntcheu in the Central Region. However, unlike in Mozambique, the impact has been minimal, except for a few pockets, where complete wash away of the crops and destruction of the harvest was experienced.

In addition, a few other districts in the central region had dry spells, which were not significant in severity. The other drivers were price shocks – the price of commodities remained high compared to the same period last season. A few districts experienced Fall Armyworm infestations and other minor crop pests. Over and above, the poor and very poor households remained stricken by high levels of poverty that compromise their ability to manage household food security.

The country received early and more rains this year compared to last year. A few districts reported dry spells during the growing season. Floods were experienced mostly in the southern part of the country and a few isolated areas in the central and northern regions.

All districts in the central region and southern regions registered an increase in maize production over the last year. In the north, all districts reported an increase in production, except for Karonga, Nkahata Bay and Rumphi districts. An increase in production was attributed to good rainfall distribution, despite the heavy rainfall in the south that occurred when the crop had matured. Farm gate prices for most crops improved slightly, but remain generally low for farmers to have good gross margins. All districts reported incidents of Fall Armyworm, but with a minimal impact on crop performance. Irrigated crop is projected to increase due to increased residual moisture, resulting from the high rainfall experienced in the year.