The World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed concern over reports suggesting a worsening food security situation in the country, which calls for more funding to adjust the hunger response.
The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) already instituted a food security monitoring exercise in December 2015 to understand if and how the food needs, based on its earlier assessment, are evolving.
An assessment MVAC carried out between June 8 and July 2 2015 discovered that 2.83 million people across 25 districts in the country will not be able to meet their food requirements during the 2015/16 lean season (October -March).
This prompted President Peter Mutharika to appeal to development partners, local and international well-wishers to assist government in mobilising about $146.378 million (about K103.5billion) in response.
WFP is supposed to provide food and cash assistance to 2.4 million people (1.96 million being assisted with food and 431,000 cash transfers). Assistance to the remaining 455,000 people is being provided through cash transfers by a consortium of International NGOs.
In an update on the hunger response issued last Friday, WFP said since October 1 2015, it has reached out to about 1.6 million out of the 2.83million food insecure people across the country with lifesaving food and cash assistance.
According to the update, monthly household food ration includes 50 kilograms (kg) of maize, 6kgs of pulses, 2 litres of fortified vegetable oil, among others. In areas receiving cash-based assistance, a cash transfer equivalent to the prevailing market value of the monthly household food ration is provided.
“An additional K3 000 is also provided to households with pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of two, to enable them purchase nutritious and diversified foods, especially food from animal products whose dietary intake is low, such as eggs or fish,” states the update.
However, WFP expressed concern with reports suggesting a worsening food security situation. It said MVAC already instituted a food security monitoring exercise to understand if and how the food needs are evolving.
“Any changes in the food security findings will be used to adjust the response, and the funding requirements as well. As the food and nutrition security situation continues to evolve, WFP also started an innovative real time food price and coping strategy monitoring work,” it added.
According to WFP, with high food and nutrition security needs, the response still requires US$ 21 million (about K14.8billion) to fully meet the most vulnerable until March 2016.
Last week, an Oxfam report projected that between two and three million people may face food security crises by February.
Reacting to the Oxfam report, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said the hunger situation is a national problem and should be dealt with in a collective manner.