The number of households employing emergency livelihood-based coping strategies is rising amid increasing maize prices, a World Food Programme (WFP) survey shows.
A recently published WFP Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) on the Effects of Covid-19 in Malawi Round Four indicates that about 30 percent of surveyed households reported having employed emergency livelihood-based coping strategies within the last 30 days to access food. This is a rise from Round Three (17 percent), Round Two (20 percent) and Round One (16 percent).
Reads the analysis in part: “While figures for the previous three rounds were low, the use of adverse livelihoods coping strategies has risen during Round Four and is expected to further increase with the onset of the upcoming lean season.
“A further 21 percent of households employed crisis coping strategies and 27 percent resorted to stressed coping strategies to make ends meet.”
The analysis further shows that more urban dwellers (35 percent) were employing emergency coping strategies compared to those in rural areas (15 percent).
The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) estimates that 2.62 million people, nearly 15 percent of the country’s population, will face acute food insecurity during the upcoming lean season between October 2020 and March 2021, with a food gap period of anywhere between two to five months, depending on the location.
Of the total food insecure population, approximately 22 percent live in urban areas of the four major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba due to, inter alia, job losses, shrinking businesses and wage cuts as Covid-19 restrictions have affected many spheres of economic activities.
The development comes in the wake of rising average retail price, with figures from the International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) indicating that maize prices rose by six percent to K180 per kilogramme (kg), 20 percent lower than in September 2019 but 25 percent higher than in September 2018.
Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito observed that lately, there has been a a sharp increase in the prices of basic needs such as food, especially maize.
He said the 2020/21 fiscal plan has ignored basic policies and promises that could have generated resources to support livelihoods.
“Government has instead introduced measures that will hurt many consumers such as the introduction of new taxes on cooking oil and taxes on winning bets,” said Kapito.
Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu earlier said the budget framework’s key focus is achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, macroeconomic stability and sound financial management.