Measuring food security

With a few months to go before the next harvest, the traditional ‘hunger season’ is fast approaching for communities in Malawi. Food prices remain perilously high, 80% higher than last year, and drought is a constant concern. With this in mind, Temwa has been surveying communities in northern Malawi to gauge the levels of food security of our beneficiaries. If, as we fear, communities are at serious risk of food insecurity, we hope the survey will provide the necessary data to ensure that any future government emergency food aid distribution interventions reach Temwa’s beneficiaries.

Despite Temwa’s experiences over the last two years telling a story of acute food shortages, government data for northern Malawi has not reported the same. Perhaps due to its remoteness or a lack of government interest, the district of Nkhata Bay North is officially considered ‘food secure’. This means that regardless of how acutely the food crisis might hit the area over the coming months, there would be no official distribution of food aid.

This is what happened in early 2016 and forced Temwa to undertake its first ever emergency food distribution programme. While we don’t want people to die from hunger, Temwa’s expertise lies in sustainable community development not emergency interventions.

Surveying households



Temwa staff has therefore been undertaking food security surveys throughout the Nkhata Bay North area of Malawi. Using tools adapted from World Food Programme’s own household assessments, we hope to gain a clear understanding of the levels of food security in our beneficiary communities. If the assessment results indicate food shortages, we will have accurate data to present to government authorities and hopefully ensure that official food aid is distributed to those who need it.

The Household Economic Assessment involved interviews with community leaders and heads of households, as well as focus group discussions. Information from interviews will provide an understanding of seasonal activities, available food produce and market prices, income generating activities and how economic, climatic, health and societal influences affect these.

The results of the survey should be available very soon, and could have a major impact on how our beneficiary communities fare over the coming months. Temwa has of course been continuing to implement its sustainable agriculture and forestry programmes, this year with a focus on improving food security through better mitigation and adaption to climate change. If you would like to be part of Temwa’s efforts to support this, please donate to our mitigation and adaption projects.

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