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5.4 million people are food insecure

TURNBULL— We need to focus on the short term

Sosten Gwengwe

An integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report indicates that 5.4 million people in Malawi are facing moderate to severe chronic food insecurity.

Coincidentally, President Lazarus Chakwera last week assured people of Mchinji District, and Malawi as a whole, that the country has enough food.

He said the available stocks were enough for Malawi to meet its food needs.

The findings are from an analysis that the government, through the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, did with its partners.

The IPC report indicates that 4.4 million people face mild food insecurity while approximately 6.9 million people face no or minimal chronic food insecurity out of the 19.1 million population.

According to the report, families with severe chronic food security have deficits in quantity for more than four months of the year and consistently do not consume a diet of adequate quality.

The report also exposes poor food consumption quality in most districts, with poverty, shocks’ recurrence and poor policies and implementation as key drivers

“Only approximately three out of 10 children have been estimated to meet minimum dietary diversity during the last 10 years. Similar trends have been observed in dietary diversification among women in reproductive age,” the report reads.

A regional analysis estimates that the Southern Region is mostly affected, the hotspots being Nsanje, Chikwawa and Balaka districts.

Districts mostly in the Northern and Central regions have households with ongoing mild deficits in food quantity for two to four months and their resilience to shocks is very limited.

World Food Programme Country Director Paul Turnbull said on Friday in Lilongwe that there is a need to invest in the implementation of requisite policies.

“We need to focus on the short term; social cash transfer programmes are very important to ensure that people have money with which to buy food. It is important to make sure that nutrition interventions are done properly in the country.

“[As things stand], we do have a strong commitment to improve the food that Malawians grow. Quality is also the most important thing,” he said during the launch of the report.

Turnbull said, in the long term, there is a need to improve the type of foods that are grown and maintain climate smart agriculture to conserve the environment.

Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe said the government prioritises allocations in terms of the needs that arise.

He said issues of nutrition and stunting were on the government’s priority list.

“Resources will always have competing needs but these [nutrition and stunting] remain very important issues because we will be building a nation of people that are intellectually and physically capable and it’s an investment that cannot be put aside even when resources are very constrained,” he said.

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