Bearing brunt of high cost of living


It is a Wednesday morning at Masingolo, near Nyezelera semi-rural town in Phalombe District, at the Southern tip of Malawi.

And the weather is mild—a relative break from an intense cold weather experienced in the wee hours in recent weeks.

Hundreds of people from surrounding villages, mostly the elderly, are trotting to Masingolo Primary School Ground to queue for food under the government-led 2022-23 Lean Season Food Insecurity Response Programme (LS-FIRP).


They first gather at one of the tents, waiting for a turn to receive K25,000 each.

Figures from Phalombe District Commissioner’s office show that 21,000 households have been targeted from December 2022 to March 2023.

One of the beneficiaries, Annie Tambala from Muliya Village, Traditional Authority Nyezelera, in the district was all jubilant, three months ago, when her name was drafted among the 21,000 households.


However, with the ever rising headline inflation, averaging 25.7 percent between November and January, her hope has vanished.

She narrates that the K25,000 that she receives has not been enough to cater for her family of seven.

“We use the money to buy maize which is currently being sold at K800 per kilogramme (kg). This means that we are only able to buy 31kg for a month but this keeps us going for 20 days.

“For the remaining 10 days, we borrow from the village savings and loans group to survive a month,” Tambala said.

One of the implementing partners of the project is the World Food Programme (WFP).

WFP Country Director and Representative Paul Turnbull concedes that, at the time of designing the programme, it was not anticipated that inflation would remain high.

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to get more resources to be able to fill that gap; so, it has been a tough year in terms of food prices and inflation which every Malawian has been feeling,” Turnbull says.

Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) Commissioner Charles Kalemba said the challenge was exacerbated by the temporary closure of the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).

“We work with projections; so, we had a projection under the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee that the highest price of maize to March would be K350 per kg, which would have meant K17,500 per 50kg but that was distorted because of non availability of maize in Admarc depots, which allowed vendors to manipulate the prices,” Kalemba said.

Some of the country’s development partners, who visited Nyezelera to appreciate progress of the programme, emphasised the need to focus on crop diversification to make the communities food sufficient.

Iceland Head of Mission Inga Dóra Pétursdóttir said diversifying agricultural production and focusing on irrigation farming could enhance resilience to hunger among Malawians.

Mvac projected that 3.8 million people would be food insecure in 27 districts of the country during the 2022-23 lean season.

Dodma and humanitarian partners started implementing the programme from November 2022 using two modalities, cash transfers and in-kind maize distribution, to address the food situation.

The cash transfers have been currently pegged at K25,000 per household per month while households targeted under maize distribution are reached out with a 50kg bag of maize per month.

The total requirements for the implementation of the programme are pegged at K76.27 billion, which has been mobilised through cash from government and development and humanitarian partners, as well as in-kind—through maize contribution by the government from the Strategic Grain Reserve amounting to 62,435 metric tonnes.

Contributions towards the programme emanated from the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) Programme, European Union, World Bank, Irish Aid, KFW, World Food Programme, UniceF, Save the Children and the Malawi Red Cross Society.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker