The World Food Programme (WFP) figures show that the minimum expenditure required for the survival of a typical household in urban areas has increased by an average of 6.5 percent as the lean season steadily approaches.
In the rural parts of the Northern Region, for example, expenditure required for the survival of a typical household rose by 5.8 percent.
The survival minimum expenditure basket (Smeb) is the absolute minimum amount required to maintain existence and cover lifesaving needs, which could involve the deprivation of certain human rights.
In its Minimum Expenditure Basket Report published last week, WFP said in monetary terms, total expenditure increased from K64 422 to K68 591 during the review period in urban areas and from K35 334 to K 37 400 in rural North.
Reads the analysis in part: “This means that a typical urban and rural North dweller required an additional income of K4 169 and K2 066, respectively, to meet their bare survival needs during the latter half of August 2021.
“During this same period, the total minimum expenditure among rural dwellers in the Central and Southern regions increased by 3.1 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. This translates into an increase in income requirements of K1 167 and K1 699 for an average rural Central and Southern regions household, respectively, to meet their monthly survival needs.”
The overall rise in expenditure is a proxy indication of the general uptick in food prices as the lean season steadily approaches.
On the other hand, non-food expenditure increased by over 10 percent in the rural parts of the Northern Region and rural parts of the Southern Region, but increased by only 7.2 percent in the urban areas and 5.4 percent in the rural Centre, largely due to the increase in the prices of the main energy sources—charcoal and firewood.
In an interview on Sunday, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said consumers are unable to access or buy most of the basic goods and services due to the rising prices.
He said the most affected are those with low incomes, those living in rural areas and those that have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is the time that consumers must only buy goods and services that are within their means of income. The current economic outlook continues to be unstable and unpredictable for consumers as the economy is faced with serious challenges,” he said.
Centre for Social Concern economic governance programme officer Bernard Mphepo said the K50 000 minimum wage is on the lower side, saying an increase would be ideal to support the majority of Malawians who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and negative effects of last year’s post-election demonstrations.