Humanitarian food assistance program remains underfunded
Populations in southern areas affected by flooding are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes, while most northern and central areas remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1). According to estimates by FEWS NET and MVAC, over one million people require humanitarian assistance. In October, the Government of Malawi and partners began developing humanitarian food assistance plans, three months later than usual. As a result, only 18 percent of the MWK 37.8 billion required for the HFA program had been secured by November 12, according to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA).
Low availability and atypically high prices of the maize staple continue to restrict household food access as an increasing number of households run out of own produced food. According to a FEWS NET rapid market assessment conducted in early November, informal exports of maize grain to Tanzania and below-average production in neighboring Mozambique and Zambia are contributing to below-average supply and high competition among traders. Furthermore, on November 9, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) announced 5.72 and 7.14 percent increases in diesel and petrol pump prices, respectively, expected to lead to increased transport costs for traders and additional upward pressure on prices.
In October, maize grain prices continued to increase – by between 8 and 21 percent compared to September – in some observed markets, but remained stable at atypically high levels in others. On average, maize prices increased by 10 percent between September and October, with prices ranging from MWK 217 to MWK 299 per kilogram across selected key markets. These prices were between 55 and 122 percent higher than prices observed at the same time last year, and between 53 and 108 percent higher than the five-year average. Continued price increases are primarily attributed to the increasing number of households relying on market purchases and below average supply in most of these markets.
By mid-November, most areas had not yet received sufficient rainfall for planting 2019/2020 season crops, with a few exceptions in southern Malawi. According to the Malawi Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), average to below-average rainfall amounts are expected in central and northern areas during the October to December period, with average to above-average rainfall amounts expected in southern areas. Between January and March, central and northern areas are expected to receive above-average rainfall and southern areas are expected to receive below-average rainfall.