By Yamikani Msukwa
At least 1.46 million people will require food assistance in coming months, widely spread than last year, the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) report says.
‘More than 1.46 million people will need food assistance in coming months. It is believed that this figure could increase significantly during coming months.
“The areas of greatest need are more widely spread than last year and include the traditional surplus areas of central and northern Malawi,” reads July MVAC report.
In response to this, Malawi government alongside the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday launched a relief operation to meet a rise in the country’s food needs due to bad weather during growing season and high food prices.
“WFP is preparing to scale up its relief operations accordingly though the exact extent of the need will not become clear after an MVAC assessment update, due to be carried out this month (September),” said WFP Country Representative, Coco Ushiyama.
Most severe levels of need are expected in January through to February-the height of the lean season- because household food stocks in many areas are already depleted, according to Ushiyama.
“Most affected households experienced a 50 percent decline in food production due to prolonged dry spells this year. Decreased production, on the other hand, has also contributed to maize prices that are up to 100 percent higher than last year.
“WFP is working with the government and key partners to ensure that we can reach those most in need. However, we are racing against time to secure enough funding to pre-position food before the rains and before food and transport rates increase further. What’s more, the affected area is larger and more dispersed than in recent years,” said Ushiyama.
WFP is expected to offer those in need a balanced food basket including maize, pulses, vegetable oil and SuperCereals, a fortified corn soya blend that can be made into a nutritious porridge. Cash transfers for the most vulnerable to buy their own food will also be issued in areas where market conditions allow, according to Ushiyama.