Prices of staple foods are soaring in Malawi, more than a week after Tropical Cyclone Freddy made its second passage over the southern African country.
This surge in food prices is worsening levels of food insecurity as families struggle to meet their needs.
The World Food Programme (WFP) reported that the price of maize has soared to record levels and is now 300 percent higher on average than the same time last year in the cyclone-affected region.
“Several markets are either inaccessible or without sufficient food. In the southern Nsanje district, cut-off by floods, maize prices are up 400 percent year-on-year,” said the organization.
WFP is on the ground supporting Malawi’s national government to help flood-hit families get back on their feet by providing an immediate response package, while also paving a pathway out of the catastrophic situation.
Here is an update on the situation and WFP’s activities in support of the government-led response:
• Some 3.8 million people were facing acute food insecurity levels (IPC Phase 3) at the peak of the hunger season between January and March this year. Tropical Cyclone Freddy has worsened the situation and more people will now need assistance in 2023.
• The Government estimates that over 500 people have died, while some 350 are reported missing, with more than 500,000 displaced and now living in some 534 makeshift camps.
• Some 320,000 hectares of land have been flooded, including 117,000 hectares of farmland, according to estimates from WFP’s Advanced Disaster Analysis & Mapping Flood Impact Analysis.
• WFP has provided 40 metric tons (mt) of Corn Soya Blend, a partially pre-cooked fortified food consumed as porridge, to displaced people in Phalombe, Chikwawa and Mulanje districts with an additional 10 mt airlifted to Nsanje district. A total of 33,000 people have received food as of 20 March, against a planned target of 130,000 people by the end of March.
• About 1,500 people have been rescued in Nsanje district by the Government with the help of boats provided by WFP in support of rescue efforts by the Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and IRIS Africa.
President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, on Wednesday described Cyclone Freddy as more devastating than any other natural disaster the country has experienced before, adding that it “has caused physical and psychological suffering for the survivors.”
Speaking in Parliament, Chakwera acknowledged that many humanitarian institutions and development partners have responded positively to the needs of Cyclone Freddy survivors, who are currently housed in over 500 camps.
He called on Members of Parliament to stand with and support all those providing aid.