Responding to Malawi’s impending food crisis

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BY JAN DUCHOSLAV, MAZVITA CHIDUWA, SIMON DENHERE, JOACHIM DE WEERDT, RODWELL MZONDE AND GEORGE PHIRI
OPEN ACCESS | CC-BY-4.0

Malawi is heading towards a severe food crisis later this year after an El Niño induced mid-season dry spell—the worst in the last hundred years—affected the harvest of maize, the staple food grown by nine out of 10 farming households.

The government declared a state of disaster in March as the country entered its dry season with very low food stocks. Malawi consumes around 3.5 million metric tons (MT) of maize every year, but as of the end of the rainy season, the government projects that only 2.9 million MT will be harvested—a 600,000 MT shortfall. The next rainy season is not expected until towards the end of 2024, with a harvest around April 2025. This means that, as in past El Niño affected years, up to 40% of the population is likely to need food assistance. On April 30, President Lazarus Chakwera launched an appeal for $447 million to fund a comprehensive response.

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