The state of urban food insecurity in Malawi’s four major cities

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Mkusa, Leonard Maximian
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African Economic Research Consortium
The world population is rapidly urbanising. As the majority of urban dwellers in Africa are net food buyers, they are vulnerable to income and food price shocks. At the current rate of urbanisation, food insecurity is likely to pose a significant future challenge. There is a paucity of available studies on urban food security in Africa and more so for Malawi where most food security analyses focus on rural contexts. This study set out to address this deficiency. The study compared the levels and severity of food insecurity in Malawi’s four major cities: Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba and identified the groups most vulnerable to food insecurity. The data of 1728 urban households were drawn from Malawi’s fourth Integrated Household Survey (IHS 4) of 2016/17. Six available food security indicators (the Household Dietary Diversity Score, the Food Consumption Score, the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning, the reduced Coping Strategies Index, an asset index and food expenditure as a share of total household expenditure) were used to compare food insecurity in the four cities. A bivariate analysis of the proportions of food-insecure households was conducted to establish the severity of food insecurity. Correlation analysis was employed to identify the groups most vulnerable to food insecurity.