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More people to be food insecure in 2023—WFP

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A Malawi Post Floods Assessment by the World Food Programme indicates that more people are likely to be food insecure in the 2022- 23 lean season.

The assessment, released on June 27 2022, notes that the 2022 rainy season was particularly severe, in terms of flood events that resulted in flooding, among other issues.

“The impact of the 2022 rainy season and related flooding was significant, both in terms of immediate humanitarian needs as well as longer development ones. The losses incurred mean that, for the 2022- 23 lean season, there will likely be a longer gap period, more people in need and greater severity of need. Beyond the lean season, the impact on livelihoods in general will require additional recovery support to affected populations,” the assessment reads.

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Heavy rains and floods experienced over the 2022 rainy season have severely impacted agricultural activities, saturating fields and reducing overall yields significantly, particularly in the Southern Region, according to the assessors.

It further indicates that, as a result, Malawi is likely to face a below-average harvest in 2022 for both consumption and cash crops compared to the 2020 and 2021 harvests.

Owing to this, it is anticipated that there would be an early onset of the 2022-23 lean season, with more households classified as being acutely food insecure over a longer period.

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As reflected in a United Nations Flash Appeal, the aftermath of several storms left at least 990,000 people in need of life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian assistance and protection, including 190,400 people who were temporarily displaced by floods.

There was no immediate comment from the Ministry of Agriculture but, in a recent interview, the ministry’s spokesperson Gracian Lungu said they were encouraging farmers to use hybrid seeds to ensure early maturity and maximise production.

Meanwhile, African Institute of Corporate Citizenship Head of Programmes Leonard Chimwaza has said reports of this nature provide the basis for planning and designing food security-related programmes.

But Chimwaza said, for these reports to bear fruit, the country needs to adapt a holistic approach to dealing with challenges that come with calamities like floods.

“As shown in this report, there is a strong call for short-term means of ensuring that Malawi has enough food. Some of the means include promoting small and large-scale irrigation, relief programmes and safety nets,” he said.

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