About three million Malawians will face hunger in 25 of the country’s 28 districts starting from October this year to March next year, unless government and partners move in swiftly to rescue the affected populations.
This is as a result of a decline in total maize production from 3 978 123 metric tonnes registered last year to 2 776 277 tonnes this year representing a 30.2 percent drop, according to preliminary findings by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC).
Food security in Malawi is generally equated with adequate production of maize which is estimated to account for more than 60 percent of the country’s total food production.
The MVAC preliminary findings, which The Nation has seen, indicate that the country has a projected deficit of 223,723 metric tonnes against the expected national consumption for 2015/16 which is estimated at 3,000,000 metric tonnes.
The findings further estimates that government will require 113,733 metric tonnes of maize equivalent or K22 746 641 000 ($50.5 million) for intervention for the three to six months period.
The amount is far beyond the K8.5 billion ($18.9 million) Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said government had put aside for the importation of maize during the 2015/16 financial year.
MVAC members met last week Friday at the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development Conference room to get a report on the findings of the annual food security assessment conducted across the country.
The minutes of the meeting which The Nation has also seen, indicate that committee adopted the report of the findings which has been sent to authorities for approval and subsequent release.
According to the minutes, the meeting agreed that it would help if the approval process of the report on the affected population was done quickly so that an appeal for humanitarian assistance could be made in time to avoid any delays in the start of the humanitarian response program.
“The meeting was informed that the approval process was already underway, it was only waiting for an endorsement of the findings by the members of the committee,” reads part of the July 2, 2015 meeting minutes.
The food security forecast, whose data collection was done from 8 to 9 June, 2015 in 27 districts (where two extension planning areas- EPAs- per district and two villages per EPA were visited) say that humanitarian assistance will be required for an estimated 2,833,212 Malawians from October 2015 to March 2016.
According to the findings the 25 affected districts are Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Machinga, Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Neno, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntcheu, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo and Zomba.
The Southern Region appear to be the worst hit with all the districts affected while Ntchisi in Central Region and Nkhata Bay and Likoma districts in the North appear to be food secure.
According to the report, Chikwawa District is the worst hit with 237 618 people affected while Mzimba and Mangochi coming second and third with 226 398 and 207 164 people being food insecure. Mwanza is the least affected district with only 22 184 affected people.
The committee has since recommended government and its partners to move in with speed to assist the affected populations and save their lives.
Another recommendation is that government, through ADMARC, should ensure that maize is available in all viable selling posts at affordable price to curb speculation and hoarding by private traders.
The committee also wants government to deal with people who were affected by floods but are still in camps but were supposed to be assisted up to July, 2015.
“Irrigation needs to be promoted and supported in areas where there are water bodies and residual moisture,” reads the report.