Early warning systems: Exploring cross-sector pooling of health, food security and weather data at community level in Malawi

This abstract has been accepted at the 2024 DHIS2 Annual Conference

Early warning systems: Exploring cross-sector pooling of health, food security and weather data at community level in Malawi

The abstract highlights an ongoing initiative in Malawi to aggregate data on food security, health, and weather at the household and community levels. We reflect on the development of a prototype, merging household registration, rainfall, and food security data from the National Agriculture Management Information System, the household register from the Integrated Community Health Information System, and broader meteorological and climate data. These datasets are under multiple government ministries and compartmentalized datasets. In an effort to combat hunger and food insecurity, the work investigates insights that can be produced from the proposed pooling of data. We also consider the difficulties of integrating cross-sector platforms. Food security and nutrition are significantly impacted by Malawi’s susceptibility to weather and climatic variability. Between June and September of 2023, for instance, the 2023 IPC reports that 3 million people, or 15% of Malawi’s population, were living with high acute food insecurity, or a “crisis.” According to the analysis, the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity or worse is expected to increase to 4.4 million, or 22 percent of Malawi’s total population, between October 2023 and March 2024. It is often known that unpredictability in the weather and climate, along with inadequate nutrition, have a direct impact on human health. Reports indicate that undernutrition among women and children is still an ongoing issue in Malawi that affects development and public health, with adverse weather events, such as Cyclone Fredy, exacerbating the situation. The rate of stunting in children under five was 35.5% in 2022, according to data from USAID. Notwithstanding these difficulties, inadequate data integration amongst sectoral systems can make it difficult to organize interventions to help the risk profiling of families. The health sector, outside of individuals registered for corrective nutrition interventions, is mostly lacking in nutrition and food security data, according to health managers in one district. Thus, their preparedness towards food security impacted nutrition faces considerable challenges. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, and other agencies can provide information to help with health sector preparedness. For this reason, we are working to combine data from multiple cross-sectoral platforms.

Primary Author: Tiwonge Manda

Agriculture, community health, integration, weather and climate, early warning