Blog Category

Southern Africa

Act now to address Malawi’s looming food crisis


Malawi is facing a severe drought crisis linked to the El Niño climate phenomenon. On March 23, President Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of disaster in 23 of Malawi’s 28 districts in anticipation of a poor harvest and appealed for more than $200 million in humanitarian assistance.

Southern Africa drought: Impacts on maize production

Apr 10th, 2024 • by Joseph Glauber and Weston Anderson

Parts of Southern Africa have been experiencing a severe drought since late 2023, fueled in large part by the ongoing El Niño Southern Oscillation. Falling harvests have led to disaster declarations in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and affected countries across the region. In particular, maize yields have fallen sharply, threatening food security for millions of households depending on this key staple for a significant share of total calories consumed on a daily basis (Figure 1).

Evaluating Fertilizer Subsidies in Malawi

Mar 15th, 2024 • by Sara Gustafson

Since the 1950s, Malawi has used a national fertilizer subsidy program as a way to spur use of inorganic fertilizers, boost domestic maize production, and ensure food security and self-sufficiency for smallholder farmers. According to new working paper from the Malawi Strategy Support Program, however, the national subsidy program may not be the most efficient investment for improving the country’s food security and domestic production goals.

Acute Food Crisis Continues in Congo

Dec 22nd, 2023 • by Sara Gustafson

Over 25 million people have experienced acute food insecurity and hunger between July and December 2023, according to the World Food Programme and IPC. The country is currently facing one of the world’s largest current food crises.

IPC estimates that around 3.5 million people are in Phase 4 (Emergency) food insecurity, while 21.8 million are in Phase 3 (Crisis). As many as 900,000 children under five are suffering from severe wasting.

Hunger in Malawi: The El Niño Effect

Nov 22nd, 2023 • by S. Gustafson

The El Niño phenomenon, occurring on average ever 2-7 years, often causes reduced precipitation and drier-than-average weather in Malawi. These conditions in return result in poor agricultural conditions and reduced harvests. A new project paper from the Malawi Strategy Support Program examines the extent of El Niño’s effects on agriculture and identifies pathways to mitigate the subsequent impacts on hunger levels in the country.