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Food security gains at risk

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There is a potential food insecurity threat if the third wave of Covid strikes the country, a Malawi Food Security Outlook Update for April 2021 indicates.

However, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) update notes that further easing of Covid restrictions and improvement in economic activity are increasing income-earning opportunities for many low-income urban households.

The update, released on May 1 2021, notes that humanitarian assistance to people in urban areas is also expected to transform lives of households.

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The government was implementing a three-month K20.5 billion Covid Urban Cash Intervention in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu cities to cushion Covid-induced economic hardships.

At least 199,640 households were targeted and getting K35,000 per month beginning January this year.

“Given further increases in economic activity expected in the post-harvest period, minimal outcomes are anticipated at the area level in the July to September period. However, the potential for a third wave of Covid remains a threat to food security for urban populations,” the report reads.

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On April 21 2021, the government increased business operating hours and increased the limit on the size of public gatherings and public transport capacity while schools, borders and airports remain open.

“This is resulting in continued improvement in economic activity and, in turn, increased income-earning opportunities for low-income urban households,” the update adds.

The report projects that, in May and June, households’ access to income would improve in most areas during the peak crop marketing period.

Commenting on the report, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at Catholic University Loveness Imaan said, much as easing of Covid restrictions had improved economic activity for Malawians, the government needed to tread carefully due to the potential of a third wave.

“We need to balance the two. For example, we all have the right to life but, also, the Republican Constitution gives us the liberty to engage in different economic activities. So, the government has to assess the current situation and, if there is a threat of the third wave, tread carefully with these restrictions,” she said.

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