Most northern and central areas are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in most southern districts and parts of Karonga District. These areas are expected to fall into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by October, with outcomes anticipated to persist until January 2020. Humanitarian assistance is needed to close food consumption gaps and protect livelihoods in these areas, though none is planned. The rest of the country will continue to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between October 2019 and January 2020.
According to national and international forecasts, average to above-average rainfall is expected between October 2019 and March 2020, although localized anomalies are a possibility. This is expected to lead to overall normal availability of agricultural labor opportunities, although some poor households in southern areas are engaging in season 2019/20 land clearing and tilling activities atypically early in order to earn income for maize purchases. As a result, decreased demand for agricultural labor is anticipated in September/October, with normal demand expected to resume for planting activities in November/December. However, flooding in these areas has weakened the paying power of households that normally hire labor, expected to put downward pressure on wages.
Prices for staple foods remain atypically high, attributed to increased demand from traders and southern areas early in the season. As of August, maize prices at the national reference market of Mitundu were 61 percent above last year’s prices and 74 percent above the five-year average. Maize prices across the rest of the country continued to increase between July and August, reaching levels in the range of 40 to 80 percent above the five-year average. These high food prices have restricted household food access. According to key informants, most households in southern areas are decreasing the quantity and frequency of meals at times when they are unable to meet their food needs.