Most of the country is experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes. In southern Malawi, the provision of humanitarian food assistance has improved outcomes to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) in many areas, though non-beneficiaries are facing worse outcomes. In Balaka, however, distributions planned for December had not yet commenced as of mid-January, while in Mwanza, Blantyre, Phalombe, and the northern Karonga district, distributions are not planned to start until February. These areas remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with many households consuming less preferred foods and reducing quantity and frequency of meals.
Retail maize grain prices increased by up to 36 percent in most markets from November to December 2019, reaching levels 69-125 percent higher than the previous year and 83-119 percent higher than the five-year average. According to a FEWS NET assessment in early- to mid-January, prices in selected markets ranged from MWK 245-300/kg in northern Malawi, MWK 240-300/kg in central Malawi, and MWK 300-400/kg in southern Malawi. Supplies in most markets remain significantly below average and ADMARC sales have had minimal impact on the market. Maize prices – as well as prices for other food commodities like rice, cassava, and beans – will likely increase in most markets between January and March as the lean season reaches its peak.
Most of the country has received average to above-average cumulative rainfall since the start of the planting season in November, with generally good spatial and temporal distribution. This has led to favorable crop development and good water availability across most of the country. In Nsanje district, however, erratic rainfall has resulted in poor crop conditions and, in the week of January 19, heavy rainfall and flooding affected Nsanje, Chikwawa, and Phalombe, damaging the homes and crops of over 600 families. Although pests – especially the Fall Army Worm and the African Army Worm – have attacked fields across the country since November, control measures have been generally effective in protecting crops. Overall, an average to above-average harvest is expected in April 2020.