About 1.63 million people are food insecure in Malawi and will require support for three to eight months, according to a latest Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report.
The Mvac findings, released on June 27 2012, also indicate an increase in the number of food insecure people to 1.63 million in 15 districts. Three of the affected districts are in the Central Region and 12 in the South (which has 13 districts).
This translates to about 11 percent of the Malawi population, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Last year, at least 200 000 people in 10 districts needed food aid in the country.
“Those affected [this year] will require support for a period of three to eight months [August 2012 to March 2013]. The Mvac report recommends a swift response and a broad range of interventions, including cash and food-based public works programmes,” says OCHA in its Humanitarian Bulletin Southern Africa, Issue 02 of June 2012.
The bulletin says government, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), convened a meeting with partners on 27 June 2012 to discuss response coordination.
Reads the bulletin, in part: “It was decided that a consolidated response plan be developed, coordinated by Dodma, with support from the United Nations Resident Coordinatorâ€™s Office [UNRCO] in Malawi.
“The three clusters of Food Security and Agriculture; Health and Nutrition; and Education have been reactivated, and these clusters will provide inputs to the response plan, which should be finalised by early July 2012.â€
Dodma principal secretary Jeffrey Kanyinji confirmed that 1.63 million people require food assistance.
He said relief food distribution starts in August.
In the bulletin, Dodma confirms that 75 000 tonnes of maize is required for the food response, and that the government will release 25 000 tonnes from its strategic grain reserves, which translates to a shortfall of 50 000 tonnes.
Erratic performance of main season rainfall, including prolonged dry spells, and poor access to agricultural inputs by some farmers are cited as some of the factors that have resulted in below-average 2012 cereal and cash crop production in southern Malawi.
Elsewhere in the Sadc region, above-average production is expected in South Africa and Zambia. But Zambia and Malawi face reduced harvests from last seasonâ€”five and seven per cent, respectively.
In Zimbabwe, due to a mid-season dry spell in some parts of that country, cereal production is expected to drop by 33 per cent compared to last year, which is 15 per cent below the five-year average.
Reduced harvests are also expected in Angola (28 percent decrease), Lesotho (72 percent), Swaziland (nine percent) and Botswana (50 percent).
But production levels in Tanzania and Mozambique are estimated to be slightly less or similar to those achieved last year.