The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has put the number of people in need of total humanitarian assistance at seven million of the projected 8.4 million who are facing food shortage.
This is a 129 percent jump from 2.8 million people that required total food assistance in the 20165/17 consumption period.
Signifying how dire the hunger situation is in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture last month announced that about 8.4 million Malawians would face food shortage, but the Finance ministry has emphasised that only 6.5 million people will need total food assistance, raising the amount of maize needed to 493 000 metric tonnes.
In a press statement issued on June 10 2016, signed by Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani on the results of the May 2016 Food Security Assessment, government said 39 percent of the country’s population will not meet their annual food requirements during the 2016/17 consumption period.
“The total humanitarian food assistance is estimated at the equivalent of 493 000 metric tonnes of maize, with an estimated cash value of K148 billion to ensure that the affected people survive up to the next harvest period without disrupting their socio-economic livelihoods,” reads the statement.
In the 2016/17 draft budget, government has allocated K35.5 billion for maize purchases on top of the expenditure being incurred in the current fiscal year for immediate relief.
In the statement, however, the Ministry of Finance further lowered the quantity of maize that might be needed for total humanitarian assistance from 493 000 metric tonnes to 375 000 on the justification that some affected people might; “sell their assets to acquire food”.
“The cash value for the latter intervention option, which may reduce the future productive and disaster resilience capacities of the affected people, is estimated at K113 billion,” reads the statement.
“This is lower than the maize consumption deficit of 790 000 metric tonnes affecting 8.4 million people, as reported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development based on the Second Round Crop Estimates released in April 2016.
“The main difference between the two sets of figures arises from the fact that part of the maize consumption deficit relates to the consumption needs of those who can afford to procure it on the market, if available, without the need for humanitarian support. The Mvac [Malawi vulnerability assessment committee] figures exclude such consumption needs which are, nevertheless, a significant part of the Government’s overall intervention plans,” reads the report.
Since the declaration of a State of National Disaster by President Peter Mutharika on April 12 2016, government has been collaborating with its development partners to design various interventions to assist the affected population.
Mangani said a comprehensive government humanitarian response plan will be finalised soon, taking into account the Mvac figures reported in this statement.
He also observed that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has intensified the procurement of maize and other commodities, to ensure that they are available in all Admarc selling points.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda told Parliament a week ago that government had laid out a plan to import about one million metric tonnes of maize to be done by both Admarc and the National Food Reserve Agency. n