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National

Cost of living up 10.8%

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John Kapito

The minimum average cost of a typical household’s monthly survival expenditure in Malawi increased by 10.8 percent from October to November 2022, reaching a record K92,200.

This is according to a World Food Programme (WFP) assessment which indicates that increases in prices of maize grain, pulses, fish and sugar significantly contributed to the overall rise in the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (Smeb) in the country.

Released on Monday, the assessment indicates that during this period, rural areas in the Northern Region recorded the highest increase of 13.3 percent in the Smeb while the lowest rise in expenditure of 7.7 percent was observed in urban areas.

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“The cost of the urban Smeb was the highest at K107,056 per month compared to the cost in rural areas. Among the rural areas, the cost of the Smeb was the highest in the Southern Region at K90,306 per month followed by the Central and Northern regions, where the cost of a November 2022 Smeb was K86,162 and K85,357, respectively,” the assessment reads.

Further, the assessment indicates that maize grain was selling at K490 per kilogramme (kg) in November 2022, an increase of 23.1 percent from K398 per kg the previous month.

Prices rapidly increased in the second half of the year, from K214 per kg in June, according to the assessment.

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Through the Smeb, WFP notes that the average cost of living has been increasing since the start of data collection in April 2020 as depicted by trends.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Consumers Association of Malawi Executive Director John Kapito has said this year’s festive season will be the worst ever for consumers due to high inflation, high interest rate and high prices of goods and services.

“Consumers are unable to buy most basic goods and services they need. It is obvious that when Christmas comes, every consumer would want to celebrate. But there is no money around. We urge consumers to be careful with the little money they have,” Kapito said.

Similarly, Programmes Officer for Centre for Social Concern Bernard Mphepo said Malawians need to brace for a tough festive season.

Mphepo said the cost of living is so high that it is hard for many households to sustain themselves.

But the government, through Information Minister Gospel Kazako, has maintained that Malawi is being reconstructed, calling on the citizenry to exercise patience.

The survival basket excludes education costs— notably because public primary education is free— health service fees and basic medicines and agricultural input costs.

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