The minimum amount required to maintain existence and cover lifesaving needs of households increased by an average of four percent in between end July and mid- August amid rising prices, published World Food Programme (WFP) figures show.
In its recent Minimum Expenditure Basket in Malawi, WFP said the survival minimum expenditure basket (Smeb), increases in the prices of maize grain, beans, cassava, and vegetables contributed a significant share of the rise in the expenditure baskets across all the regions.
Reads the analysis in part: “Households in both urban and rural areas faced increased expenditure on food and non-food commodities since the last round. The increase in Smeb was more pronounced in the urban areas and rural Central Region than in the rural Northern Region.”
WFP figures show that the rural Northern Region registered, the Smeb slightly rose from K67 313 per month in the previous round to K67 871 per month in the review period as food and non-food expenditures mildly increased by 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively resulting in a 0.8 percent rise in the average household survival minimum expenditure for the region.
In the rural Central Region, households spent K 2 330 per month more in the review period compared to the previous round as its expenditure rose from K 67 161 per month to K 69 491 per month.
The data shows that in the region, food expenditure increased by 3.4 percent as the prices of maize, cassava, and green vegetables notably rose by 6.4 percent, 12.2 percent, and 6.7 percent, in that order.
The Smeb equally rose in the rural Southern Region to K 77189 per month in the review round from K75 199 per month during the previous round, an increase of K 1 990 per month.
This increase according to the data was necessitated by the rise in the food expenditure comprised of maize grain, beans, cassava and vegetables by 2.7 percent and non-food expenditure comprised of cost of milling and soap by 2.2 percent.
Presently, Inflation—the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time—has been on the rise for the past months largely due to increase in food and non-food items.
For instance, in a space of six months, the inflation rate has doubled from 12.1 percent in January to 24.6 percent as of July, according to the National Statistical Office figures.
The rising cost of items is having a negative impact especially on lower income households’ access to food and necessities as it continues to push up inflation.
According to Centre For Social Concern (CfSC) economic governance programme officer Bernard Mphepo most Malawians are hardly surviving as cost of living largely pushed by food prices has continued to rise.
He said: “The cost of and it is expected to continue rising in the process making it hard for Malawians to access basic items.”
Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito has also indicated that the current situation is hard for consumers whose incomes have also dwindled due to the recent devaluation of kwacha.