Malawi mVAM Bulletin #3: February 2016 - Increases in food insecurity as food prices spike

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  • Negative coping levels have worsened throughout the country largely due to February’s record high maize prices.

  • Manual labour wage is lower because the continued insufficient rain has depressed labour demand. Purchasing power has decreased in tandem with food prices spiralling upward across the country. Delayed planting and expected lower than average crop production will likely exacerbate food insecurity.

  • Respondents’ sentiment has significantly deteriorated since last month, particularly in the central region as it experiences rainfall deficits and high food commodity prices.


February 2016 marked the third monthly round of remote data collection. The survey was conducted using text messaging (SMS) from February 5th to 11th 2016, reaching 3677 households.
Participants were randomly selected from a national database of mobile subscribers.
Respondents opted in to the SMS survey and were asked questions on socio-demographics, coping behaviour and manual labour wages as well as an open-ended question on food security.
To increase completion rates an airtime credit incentive of US 50 cents was provided to respondents who successfully completed the survey. WFP Malawi’s in-house call centre has been operational since the end of December 2015 and is collecting weekly information from key informants on food commodity prices (maize, cow peas, pigeon peas and beans), food availability and market accessibility. The call centre is also monitoring new admissions to nutrition programmes by contacting 70 health facilities in seven districts (Phalombe, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Nsanje, Kasungu, Balaka and Karonga). By-weekly phone surveys are conducted to capture acutely malnourished children aged 6-59 months, adolescents’ and adults’ admissions to Supplementary Feeding, OTP, Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) and TB Programmes. It is acknowledged that the SMS and phone surveys contain inherent response biases towards better-off and literate households. Due to the possible biases in the data, this bulletin avoids giving precise estimates of food insecurity, but rather captures patterns and trends. Additional information on methodology is available in the first bulletin and online (