SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
Overall, food security remains poor in Round 9 and is consistent with the situation as per the two previous rounds (November 2020-January 2021). While this represents an overall decrease in the proportion of households having acceptable food consumption compared to Rounds 1-6, it is important to note that the food security situation has remained relatively stable throughout the course of the 2020/2021 Lean Season.
The proportion of households who are employing the most severe consumption-based coping strategies and emergency livelihood coping strategies continues to remain high for the fourth consecutive round, as households attempt to maintain good food consumption during the ongoing lean season period.
Reported access to markets has increased in Round 9 compared to the previous round. This could be attributed to the instilled confidence amongst people in accessing marketplaces with increased understanding on how to prevent COVID-19.
Malawi experienced the development of a new, fast-spreading wave of the COVID-19 pandemic starting in late December 2020. At that time, the majority of new cases were initially found amongst Malawian workers returning from South Africa for the holidays. In the first few weeks of January 2021, the number of people confirmed with the disease doubled every four to five days, quickly saturating local medical capacity across the country. 
On January 12th, 2021, the President declared a National Disaster amid the alarming spike in coronavirus infections. The Government then moved quickly to enact stricter mitigating measures necessary to control the disease, including closing borders save for essential services personnel and traffic carrying essential goods such as fuel, medicines, and food commodities; mandating mask wearing, hand washing, and greater attention to social distancing; and closing all schools. Schools subsequently reopened on February 22nd, five weeks after they were initially closed.
The recent peak of COVID-19 cases coupled with the height of the 2020/2021 Lean Season necessitate continued monitoring vis-a-vis the effects on household food security and livelihood activities.