Food Security Outlook Update

Despite a late start of season, flooding is expected as the rainfall situation improves

December 2012

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DoCCMS) reported a delay in rainfall between October and November and a total rainfall of less than 75 percent of average. In December the rainfall situation improved significantly and DoCCMS forecasts expect average to above-average rainfall for the remainder of the season. 

  • Nearly all of the resources necessary to respond to the estimated 1.97 million people identified as food insecure in recent MVAC assessments are secured and humanitarian assistance is expected to continue as planned through March 2013. This improved assistance outlook is likely to prevent Crisis and Emergency food insecurity outcomes initially projected for the south for January-March 2013. 

  • Households currently receiving assistance are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the outlook period, however households that have yet to receive assistance are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through December. Households in the areas of concern are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March, in the presence of assistance.

Current Situation

  • An analysis of the start of the rainfall season by DoCCMS shows that there was a delay in the start of rains in southern Malawi and the total rainfall was less than 75 percent of average across the country between October and November.
  • The DoCCMS has projected average to above-average rainfall for the overall 2012/13 season. This forecast could likely result in flooding in all flood prone areas throughout the country.
  • Nearly all resources required for humanitarian assistance are secured and the logistics budget is nearly fully funded. It is expected that the assistance needs for all of the 1.97 million people facing food insecurity in the southern region will be covered.
  • Humanitarian assistance continues to be scaled up and has been well received in all districts. The WFP targeted 629,734 beneficiaries with in-kind food assistance and 67,177 beneficiaries with cash transfers in November. Some of the cash transfers are being implemented by an Oxfam-led consortium and some by Save the Children. Cash transfer beneficiaries are receiving the cash equivalent of the current food basket valued at the prevailing market rate.
  • The Government of Malawi (GoM) has released 47,600 MT of maize from their Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) in order to meet maize requirements for the humanitarian assistance response plan through March 2013. 
  • Anecdotal reports from consumers in the southern region show that ADMARC supplies continue to be erratic. Due to this, households that are ineligible for humanitarian assistance continue to depend on very expensive maize from private traders in local markets.
  • November maize price trends show that average prices continue to rise as expected during the lean period. The national average maize prices increased by 7 percent between October and November. In both northern and central Malawi prices rose by about 7 percent, while in the southern region maize prices increased by 8 percent. The Karonga market in Karonga district in northern Malawi reported the highest average price of MWK87.57 in November. This is attributed to high demand for informal maize exports to Tanzania. 

Updated Assumptions

The current situation has changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of December 2012 to March 2013. The updated assumptions (see below) are not expected to change the projected food security outcomes for the outlook period. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the October Outlook and the November Food Security Outlook Update. 

  • In the October Outlook, it was stated that the DoCCMS expected flooding in low-lying areas between October and December. The updated DoCCMS forecast expects flooding in some areas due to the projected average to aboveaverage rainfall during the remainder of the season. Flooding could leave some roads impassable, delaying humanitarian food assistance as well as commercial food commodity distributions in some areas of concern.
  • In the November Food Security Outlook Update, the release of maize stocks to ADMARC was expected to improve supplies and to have a stabilizing affect on general prices in local markets. Based on a FEWS NET market assessment in December, ADMARC supplies are expected to be erratic in most markets, and it is assumed unlikely that traders will reduce their prices because of high demand for maize and increasing distances between where traders are sourcing and selling their maize. 

Projected Outlook through March 2013

  • The GoM is targeting poor small-scale farmers through the Farmer Input Subsidy Program (FISP) by providing fertilizer, early maturing maize seed, and legume crop seeds and inputs for the 2012/13 agricultural season. Although the program is experiencing some delays, it has been reported that at least 75 percent of all the inputs were distributed by early December. The main challenges to the program include the scarcity of fuel to complete the distributions and potential delays due to the flooding of some rural roads and the washing away of some bridges.
  • Food insecurity in the areas of concern in southern Malawi and parts of central Malawi where humanitarian assistance has started is improving due to the rollout of the assistance programming. FEWS NET expects that the food security situation in southern Malawi will significantly improve and households receiving timely distributions will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), in the presence of assistance through March 2013. 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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