Foreign exchange shortages together with exchange rate misalignment led to a sharp decline in imports including fuel, fertilizer, medicine, and food. Large fiscal deficits, nearly 10 percent of GDP in FY2021/22, have been largely financed by domestic bank borrowing, resulting in rapid money growth and inflation of 25.9 percent in September 2022. Exchange rate pass-through and hikes in food prices added to inflationary pressure. In addition, food insecurity in Malawi has increased dramatically under the impact of multiple tropical storms, below-average crop production, and increasing prices for food and agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and seeds. The latter are expected to affect the current planting season. As a result of these factors, about 20 percent of the population is projected to be acutely food insecure during the upcoming 2022/23 lean season (October 2022-March 2023), more than twice as many as in 2021.
Malawi, a fragile state with one of the highest incidences of poverty, food insecurity and frequent weather-related shocks, has been severely affected by the pandemic. There are signs of gradual recovery and daily COVID-19 positive cases remain relatively low: real GDP growth in 2021 is projected to pick up to 2.2 percent from 0.9 percent in 2020 helped by a good harvest. However, inflation is expected to increase to 9 percent in 2021 from 8.6 percent in 2020, driven by increases in prices of fuel, fertilizer and food, leaving real per capita growth in the negative region.