Malawi: IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis, November 2019 - March 2020, Issued January 2020



In the period November 2019 to March 2020, which is the peak of the hunger season, about 1.9 million people are estimated to be in IPC Phase 3 + and require urgent action to prevent significant food consumption gaps and prevent use of negative livelihood coping strategies.

The food security situation in Malawi has significantly deteriorated since the projection undertaken in June for most of the country owing to changes in availability of maize grain stocks, the price of maize and alternative food commodities, the decrease in the winter harvest, below average rainfall forecast for the southern districts, and consequent reduction in agricultural labour opportunities.

The key driver of Malawi’s food insecurity is high maize prices, which are projected to hover between 60 and 100 percent above average between November 2019 and March 2020.

Key Findings

In the Northern Region, the main drivers for the change in classification from Phase 1 to 2 include: high prices and failure of the cassava crop due to the cassava mealy-bug.

The main drivers for the change in classification for Karonga from Phase 2 to 3 include: very high prices due to low maize supply on the market. Karonga relies on source markets in Chitipa who are supplying less stocks to Karonga due to demand from neighbouring Tanzania.

For the Central Region, the main drivers for the change in phase classification from Phase 1 to 2 include: low tobacco prices that have resulted in farmers substituting tobacco with excessive sales of maize. Overselling of maize has resulted in depletion of own stocks for most households who are now turning to the market to purchase the grain.

The Southern Region is generally a food deficit region that is highly dependent on imports from the Central and Northern Regions. Prices are highest in the South and thus a lot more people are unable to access maize at high prices. The Southern Region remains highly vulnerable to climate-induced shocks, and to further deterioration.