Over 1.1 million Malawians face hunger between October 2019 and March 2020 with 676 000 already affected by food shortage, a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme (Rvaa) report has stated.
Rvaa on Tuesday this week issued Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) results for 2019 which show that Malawi’s situation was rated, under Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), as phase 3 which is a crisis level, especially in the Southern Region districts of Balaka, Neno and Nsanje.
According to the report, as of July 2019, about 676 000 people in the country were food insecure, with three districts facing acute malnutrition levels.
By March 2020, the Rvaa report says about seven percent of the country’s population will be food insecure.
The report further shows that about 600 000 people will be food insecure in the Southern Region, 390 000 in the Central Region while 140 000 will be food insecure in the Northern Region.
Most districts in the Central Region and Karonga and Nkhata Bay in the North, are rated phase two on the IPC scale which is at stressed level while the rest of the country is rated phase one which is minimal.
Other IPC scale phases are four which is an emergency and five which is catastrophic. However, Malawi was yet to reach the two critical levels.
The report further points out that three districts of Karonga, Balaka and Mchinji have reported high global acute malnutrition rates of above 10 percent.
Reads the report in part: “As of July 2019, about 676 000 people are in crisis level of food insecurity [IPC Phase 3]. This figure is expected to increase between October 2019 and March 2020 to 1.1 million people.”
The report further indicates that while a few districts reported dry spells and floods, overall rainfall in 2019 was better than in 2018, which led to an increase in maize production.
“Farm-gate prices of most crops improved slightly but remain generally too low for farmers to record good gross margins. Most districts reported fall armyworm infestation, but with minimal impact on overall crop performance,” it reads.
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davis Sado in an interview said the national report—MVAC Results for 2019—was yet to be released but said the assessment has been already done.
“We will release the official national report soon. After releasing it, we will submit the report to Humanitarian Response Committee for planning and mapping the way forward,” he said.
Sado acknowledged the Sadc Rvaa as a credible source as their assessment was derived from the national assessment.
“It is a regional body that gets results from the national bodies, only that we have not released the national assessment results yet. We will release them soon,” he said
In February 2019 government announced that the country was expecting to have a bumper harvest with the preliminary crop estimates showing that maize production was projected at 3 387 587 metric tonnes, representing 25.6 percent increase in production. In 2017/18 the country harvested 2 697 959 metric tonnes.
The country’s nutritional status shows that wasting—acute significant food shortage and/or disease status was at 2.8 percent, stunting was at 37.4 percent, overweight was at 4.6 percent while underweight was at 11.8 percent.
The 2019 situation is an improvement from the last year’s situation where about 3.3 million Malawians were food insecure. The 2016/17 farming season was the worst in the past five years as 6.7 million people were food insecure. In 2014/15 about 1.3 million people did not have food while in 2015/16, the figure went up to 2.8 million before dripping in 2017/18 to about 1 million.