Malawians struggle to cope with soaring cost of living

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Flag Of Malawi

Martha Salima, a resident of Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre, has been struggling to afford basic commodities due to the high cost of living.

Salima is a single mother with three young children to look after with her meager monthly income. She had almost run out of food and her affordability for the next meals for the family remained uncertain, Salima told Xinhua on Wednesday.

“The cost of living is getting worse for me and my family. We had hoped that the situation would have improved by now, but instead, it keeps deteriorating,” she said.

“I do not earn enough to cope with the current cost of living in the city, and if things continue to like this, I might as well return to the village,” she added.

For many Malawians, the situation is the same. Some reports and studies highlighted the economic situation in the country.

The National Statistical Office indicated that Malawi’s year-on-year inflation for December 2022 stood at 25.4 percent.

A recent report by the Reserve Bank of Malawi through its Monetary Policy Committee indicated that the prevailing inflation levels are not conducive to supporting economic growth.

The cost of maize, a vital component of the country’s staple food, has surged by nine percent, according to a report released by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Other essential household items such as sugar and cooking oil also remain expensive, forcing many Malawians to opt for other alternatives.

“With the current high prices of cooking oil, sometimes I just boil my food and eat. Using cooking oil is a luxury that I can not afford these days,” said Patson Kuwelengeza, a Blantyre resident.

Malawi’s Consumers Association Executive Director John Kapito complained that Malawi’s current economic performance has a negative impact on people’s disposable incomes.

“Last year, we faced one of the most challenging times in the country’s economic history. The soaring inflation rate, rising into double digits, coupled with a weakened currency, had a significant effect on incomes,” Kapito said.

“If we are to move forward, the government must make sure that all strategies put in place are being implemented to reverse the current situation,” he added.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera acknowledged in his State of the Nation Address delivered to Parliament on Feb. 17 that “the living conditions and poverty of many Malawians are so harsh that millions are still unable to feed themselves.”

The Malawian leader attributed this to the country’s dependency on strategic foreign imports like fuel, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, and other commodities from countries whose economies have been severely disrupted.

According to Chakwera, the country’s economy also came under assault from adverse weather conditions that affected the 2021/2022 agriculture growing season, and two successive tropical storms that destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure.

Malawian government is currently distributing relief food and cash transfers to food-insecure Malawians in selected districts across the country, and it is also implementing Affordable Inputs Program aimed at making the country food secure. Enditem

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