malawi's vaccinationA partnership between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Aspen Institute plans to strengthen the national leadership in Malawi, as well as Malawi’s vaccination program through the Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health). By combining their efforts, they will gain support for Gavi’s plan to ensure that every child living in Malawi will be protected with vaccines.

By 2020, the Immunization Alliance of partners plans to immunize 300 million children across the globe, in turn saving five to six million lives. AMP Health works with Ministries of Health to create better leaders and managers through skills training and will act as a foundation for guiding the progression of Malawi’s vaccination plan. Through AMP Health, the partners will help coordinate Malawi’s vaccination plan, as well as train staff and improve the performance of the immunization program.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has also been working on strengthening the health system in Malawi and improving the efficiency and strategies of the system. In turn, more people can be vaccinated to prevent certain diseases, something that everyone around the world should have access to.

The main reasons why children in developing countries die are because of sicknesses like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition. This is because in developing countries they are not able to have routine immunization, due to its unaffordability. Immunizations are the key to preventing premature death in developing countries like Malawi.

Vaccinations protect children from illnesses that can often result in amputation or even death. Vaccinations are safe and effective. If a child is not vaccinated they can spread diseases to other children that may be too young to be vaccinated, or have weakened immune systems. People who are more susceptible to contracting diseases could have serious complications or even death. The plan to vaccinate those living in Malawi is crucial to the health and well being of those living in and around the country.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

 

Girls' Education in MalawiIn April 2017, Malawi president Peter Murtharika signed an amendment into law to outlaw child marriage in the country following a vote in Parliament.

This amendment has greatly affected the role of women and girls in Malawi, because prior to the amendment, girls were allowed to marry at age 15. Consequently, Malawi is ranked 11th in child marriage around the world; however, with the introduction of the new amendment, girls will not be allowed to marry if they are under the age of 18.

Child marriage was a large problem in Malawi and posed various challenges to the lives of girls, including limited access to a proper education. According to Jill Filipovic of The Guardian, girls who are married and have children in their early teenage years find it difficult to obtain an education while maintaining their roles as wives and mothers. Also, a lack of hygiene products like tampons and pads is a serious issue for girls who attempt to receive an education, because girls have to stay home during menstruation if they do not have the proper hygiene products.

However, many steps have been taken to increase girls’ access to education in Malawi. President Murtharika’s amendment to outlaw child marriage was an important step in the right direction for girls, and there are many organizations that are helping girls as well. For instance, the organization Girls Not Brides takes action against countries in which child marriage is allowed.

Furthermore, in May 2017, Neetha Tangirala from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that radio has served as a “primary source of news and information” for the people of Malawi, including women and girls.

Marshall Dyton, a Mandela Washington Fellow, hosted a radio show in order to stress the importance of girls’ education in Malawi. Dyton’s two-hour-long radio show reached an audience of approximately three million people.

USAID highlights the importance of community inclusion in the fight for gender equality in impoverished areas. Dyton’s radio show is a great example of the work many people are doing to improve girls’ education in Malawi. The radio show, which was organized by the Girl Child Education movement and funded by USAID, helped to start conversations in communities regarding the importance of girls’ education.

The outcome of the radio show was immense; following the broadcast of the radio show, the Muslim Association of Malawi was persuaded to increase access to information regarding education in some of the most rural areas of Malawi. The fight for girls’ education in the wake of the outlaw of child marriage in Malawi is only just beginning.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr

Help People in MalawiMalawi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. With a population of over 18 million people, 50 percent live below national poverty lines. Malawi’s poverty rates are widespread, with rural poverty continuing to grow. Fortunately, there are three nongovernment organizations working to decrease poverty inside the region. How to help people in Malawi is a question that three establishments below have started to answer.

  1. CARE
    CARE works to provide food, health, education and social empowerment to Malawians. A special emphasis is placed on women, with CARE referring to them as, “The faces of poverty.” One specific project – CARE’s Pathways Program – has helped Malawi women substantially improve their lives through agricultural farming. If you are wondering how you can support this organization, they offer both volunteer and fundraising opportunities. CARE also hosts learning tours so others can experience the impact they have on reducing poverty.
  2. The Hunger Project
    One of Malawi’s main challenges exists in addressing its food security needs. Malawi is prone to flooding and droughts, which make those living in rural areas susceptible to extreme hunger. The Hunger Project is helping by distributing food security programs, such as agricultural training and food banks, to Malawi communities. The organization asks for most of its support in the form of funding and donations. They also host many events, including an annual Fall Gala, where the proceeds go toward multiple food programs.
  3. Raising Malawi
    HIV/AIDS has left more than one million children orphaned in Malawi. Established by Madonna, Raising Malawi has created many programs to assist with eliminating this epidemic. The most recent project is the Mercy James Centre for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care. Childrens’ lives are now being saved with the country’s first pediatric hospital to offer surgery and an intensive care unit. You can help this organization by donating to stock the new unit with supplies.

How to help people in Malawi ranges from volunteer work and donations to a simple conversation about what is going on in order to get more people involved. These three organizations are helping to alleviate poverty in Malawi, but they cannot function alone. It takes new individuals constantly getting involved for substantial development to be seen. When more people begin to stand up for the country’s fundamental human needs, Malawi will be on the right track to seeing improvement.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

Malawi's Poverty Rate
Malawi’s poverty rate has been a critical dilemma, especially in its rural areas. Although the following issues below contribute to Malawi’s poverty rate, a great focus remains on promoting growth and improving Malawians’ standard of living.

7 Facts about Malawi’s Poverty Rate

  1. Malawi’s poverty rate has remained stubbornly high. More than half of the country’s population, about 52 percent, live on less than $0.32 per day.
  2. Malawi has a population of 6.8 million children, which is about 51 percent of the total population. Around 4 million of those children are among the poor, and poverty hits them the hardest. Intense poverty threatens their health, education and safety.
  3. The average life expectancy for Malawian’s has improved in recent years. Life expectancy for women increased from 49 years in 2005 to 63 years as of 2016. For men, life expectancy has increased from 47 years to now 58 years.
  4. As of 2013, Malawi, also known as the Republic of Malawi, is the 18th least developed country in the world. Despite this status, Malawi has improved its rural poverty rate from 44 percent in 2011 to 40.9 percent in 2013– an especially admirable feat considering the presence of conflicts that undermine years of progress.
  5. Malawi’s poverty rate in urban areas is 20 percent. However, the country ranked 170 out of 188 countries on the 2016 Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program.
  6. Malawi’s people living in rural areas make up 85 percent of its population, making its economy largely based on agriculture. A decline in agriculture production due to droughts caused Malawi’s gross domestic product growth to slow from 5.7 percent growth to 2.5 percent in 2016. An estimate of 6.5 million people will require food assistance due to recent droughts.
  7. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, has dedicated more than $160 million to 11 programs in Malawi to promote agricultural growth in an effort to reduce poverty.

Malawi is slowly developing despite its many conflicts. Malawi’s poverty rate is decreasing and progress is being made towards improving agriculture more and more every day. With these developments, Malawians have the potential to achieve economic independence.

Brandi Gomez

Photo: Flickr

Malawi Digital Foundations Project
In June 2017, the World Bank approved a $72.4 million credit to go toward the Digital Malawi Program Phase I: Malawi Digital Foundations Project, a program that aims to improve internet accessibility in Malawi.

In 2014, the rate of internet penetration in Malawi was less than six percent, one of the lowest figures for a country worldwide. This statistic is largely a financial issue: Cell phone service costs the average Malawian 56 percent of their income compared to the five percent it would cost someone in Kenya.

Internet services are taxed almost 20 percent, and an additional ten percent excise tax is added to text messages and data transfers in the country, as of May 2015. Low literacy and electrification rates and a gender divide make it even harder for Malawians to access information communication technology (ICT).

Despite its status as a “least developed country,” Malawi has seen significant economic growth in the last few years (almost six percent in 2014), and the ICT sector has contributed notably to the country’s GDP. If Malawi only had a local internet exchange point, the country would not have to pay to run data through service providers in Africa or Europe and could make service more affordable, in this way building the country’s ICT market.

The Digital Foundations Project will address this issue from four different angles. One program, entitled Digital Ecosystem, will aim to make Malawi a “more attractive and competitive place for digital investment and innovation” while working to expand ICT accessibility at the same time. The Digital Ecosystem will consist of ICT regulation, policy development and implementation and digital skills development.

Another goal of the Digital Foundations Project is to improve internet speed and affordability. Malawi does not just need wider ICT access; the country needs to also expand its reliable services. This fact is especially true in rural areas where only one percent of households have access to electricity, as well as in institutions of higher learning where high-speed internet connections are essential to learning and communicating with the world.

Importantly, the internet access the Malawi Digital Foundations Project aims to provide would serve as a source of empowerment for those Malawians living in poverty or rural areas, as it would provide Malawians with autonomy and control over their communication, education, and especially banking.

Already, more Malawians use mobile money than open formal bank accounts, and better internet would facilitate Malawians’ interactions with mobile money programs which currently run slowly due to their popularity.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Google

Human Rights in MalawHuman rights in Malawi have gone through periods of both exacerbation and improvement. The new constitution that was ratified in 1994 – which included a section specifically dedicated to human rights – guaranteed every individual’s right to life, right to be protected from genocide, entitlement to education and other basic rights. With the adoption of this constitution, multi-party democracy was introduced to the country’s government, which led many to expect noticeable improvement of human rights in Malawi.

Unfortunately, toward the end of the presidency of Bingu wa Mutharika, who died while in office in 2012, the situation worsened. As stated in the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, numerous cases of the state’s violation of human rights were reported, such as: the security forces killing innocent individuals; torture, sexual abuse and other inhumane treatment of prisoners; and arbitrary arrest or detention.

Fortunately, inauguration of the new president Joyce Banda in April 2012 brought about positive changes to the country. While her attempt to overturn the law banning homosexuality turned out unsuccessful in the end, she did manage to repeal a section of Malawi’s penal code which banned all publication not to be deemed in the public interest. Moreover, she announced that she would arrest the infamous Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir – who was convicted of genocide – if he entered the Malawian territory. This helped her gain favor among international donors and improved Malawi’s international relations.

Although human rights in Malawi have improved, problems do still exist. For instance, since November 2014, people with albinism have faced an increased risk of being abducted or killed in murders associated with witchcraft. On March 9, 2017, four men attempted to drill through the house of Gilbert Daire, former president of the Association of the People with Albinism, while he was asleep. Highlighting the lack of protection and safety for people with albinism in Malawi, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, strongly suggested that the “Malawian authorities must end this cycle of impunity of perpetrators of these crimes.”

Minh Joo Yi

Photo: Flickr

Education in Malawi
Malawi has been ranked as one of the lowest-performing nations for literacy in sub-Saharan Africa. Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world and education is proven as one of the critical pathways to improving living conditions in the country. Here are 10 facts regarding education in Malawi:

  1. Primary school in Malawi was made free in 1994. This policy boosted primary school enrollment from 1.6 million children to three million children. However, with such an influx in students, the educational quality has decreased due to weak infrastructure, poor hygiene and low teaching quality.
  2. Only 35 percent of children in Malawi complete primary school. Such a low ratio can be attributed to multiple factors.
    More than half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Many children enroll and drop out of school frequently due to employment responsibilities at home or illnesses. Especially for many young girls, dropping out is common due to young marriage, pregnancy, and contracting HIV/AIDS.
  3. In first grade, the teacher to student ratio is 1:130. While this ratio decreases as the grade level increases, Malawi faces one of the world’s worst teacher shortages.
    This fact is mostly due to the expense associated with hiring new teachers. To be able to attract qualified teachers, rural communities must provide housing, which is a significant cost. Many of the quality issues faced in Malawian schools are due to a lack of motivation by the teachers. They face poor working conditions, weak social amenities and lack health coverage.
    The overcrowding of classrooms is found to be another catalyst of high drop-out rates in Malawian schools. With students not receiving one-on-one feedback and lacking the resources to learn, many lose hope in the educational system.
    Therefore, in order to improve the quality of education in Malawi and reduce drop-out rates, the government must focus on improving teacher salaries and improve facilities around the nation. This policy change will incentivize staying in school and providing quality curricula.
  4. Eighty-three percent of first-grade students are unable to read a single syllable, and 92 percent of these students fail to read a single word. Malawi is ranked the weakest for its performance in English reading and second weakest for mathematics against other southern African countries.
    Such statistics are the result of children being denied the chance to learn under normal conditions. With the massive influx of students in recent years, education in Malawi has incurred a national shortage of classrooms, qualified teachers and basic teaching materials such as textbooks.
  5. Besides primary schooling, the government does not fully fund any other educational levels. For instance, the government encourages communities to introduce preschools into their societies but does not support these facilities financially. Therefore, most preschools are run on a voluntary basis and remain unregistered. Forty-four percent of preschoolers face undernourishment in Malawi and the majority of teachers work for free as they lack the necessary resources to teach the young children.
    Without proper preschool opportunities, children in Malawi are missing the opportunities that create a strong foundation for their future studies. The Global Partnership for Education declares that investing resources in the youngest children is one of the most cost-effective commitments a country can make. A study in 2011 found that, by having 50 percent of the world’s children enrolled in preschool, the global benefit is greater than $33 billion.
  6. With around 4.6 million students enrolled in schools throughout Malawi, only eight percent of them complete secondary school. A major contributor to this low completion is the lack of proper transportation links to the secondary facilities.
  7. Only 14.9 percent of adult females obtain at least a secondary education, compared to 24.2 percent of males. To try and reduce the gender gap in education in Malawi, Rihanna’s organization, the Clara Lionel Foundation, partnered with Ofo to create the 1 Km Action campaign. This program will provide scholarships to help girls across Malawi attend secondary school. For the children who qualify, the campaign will provide the students with bikes to ensure they can get to school.
  8. USAID also provides support to the education sector in Malawi by collaborating with the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. The United States’ efforts focus on increasing educational opportunities for females as well as boosting the capacity and quality of education in the country. USAID provides nine programs in Malawi to improve the educational standards of the country.
  9. Donors provide 40 percent of public education expenditure. However, in recent years donors have found that much of the money is not funneled into education but is rather stolen by the government sector. This theft has suspended much funding to the country.
  10. Over the past five years, the Malawian government has committed to allocate 18 percent of the national budget toward the education sector. With this commitment, Malawi will have one of the highest education expenditures in Africa. However, when comparing the educational quality with other countries, it can be noted that Malawi does not allocate its funds efficiently.

Experts believe that education is the driving force to alleviating poverty in Malawi and that it can help the country move toward development. With greater government involvement and international organizations supporting the nation, education in Malawi has the potential to improve in coming years.

Tess Hinteregger

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in MalawiMalawi has a population of 15 million people, and 74 percent live below the income poverty line of $1.90 per day. Causes of poverty in Malawi include problems with the agricultural sector and diseases. Both of these complicated issues prolong impoverishment for many communities in Malawi.

Weather-related complications often shock rural communities, plunging them deeper into poverty. Droughts are the root of the largest harm in the agricultural sector. When a drought occurs, there is a significant fall in crop production and sometimes crop failure occurs. Lower crop outputs are common in subsequent farming seasons after a drought.

Farmers have harvests that are not large enough to sustain their communities. This causes food shortages, generating larger numbers of malnourished people. More than one-third of rural households earn their income through either farming or fishing, so when there is a drought, income is scarce because food production is scarce. The agricultural sector’s problems are among the serious causes of poverty in Malawi. These problems affect the food security of Malawi’s citizens and the overall economy.

Diseases are a vast problem for the citizens of Malawi. When a family member gets sick, other members often have to sell belongings, withdraw school payments and cut back on daily food consumption. Approximately 11.9 percent of Malawians are affected by HIV/AIDS. Many families of those infected are no longer able to pursue a productive lifestyle and escape from poverty. To make medical payments, the patient’s family often has to sacrifice their education, nutrition and personal belongings. Disease causes substantial impoverishment.

Causes of poverty in Malawi, such as agricultural struggles and diseases, are severely complex issues, but there are programs being developed to help. The government of Malawi developed a National Nutrition Policy aimed at coordinating food security programming. USAID training increases the productivity of farmers and their incomes, leading to long-term agricultural development. The diseases are still a cause for concern, but USAID is helping by increasing access to high-quality healthcare. There are certainly issues, but there are ways to fix those issues, and that is what needs to be focused on.

Lucy Voegeli

Photo: Flickr

Girls Malawi EducationGirls receive education in Malawi with focused accommodations and investments that improve their quality of life. The greatest obstacles girls face in education are the high rates of child marriages and pregnancies in Malawi.

This month, the United States government announced plans to invest $90 million for the construction of secondary school classrooms for girls to further their education and become successful. The five-year investment is hoped to reduce high HIV rates among Malawian youths and delay marriage.

According to the UNICEF State of the World’s Children report, half of Malawian girls marry before age 18. Girls vulnerable to child marriages and early pregnancies most likely attain a low level of education. Only 45 percent of girls remain in school past eighth grade. While girls outnumber boys in primary school enrollment, girls are underrepresented in secondary schools. As of 2015, boys outnumber girls by about 23,000 out of 360,000 secondary school students.

The practice of child marriages continues a cycle of poverty and increases girls’ risk of suffering violence, abuse, and maternal mortality, which constitutes 30 percent of maternal deaths in the country.

In February 2017, Malawi adopted a constitutional amendment that raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years of age for both girls and boys. First Lady Gertrude Mutharika appealed to stakeholders to ensure girls receive education in Malawi and are protected from abuse.

Founder of The Beautify Malawi Trust and Girls’ Education Initiative, Mutharika supports girls across the country to become educated and empowered women. According to Mutharika, gender-based violence in marriage is prevalent because women do not further their education, and since they are not financially independent, they tolerate the abuse.

Beautify Malawi constructs girls’ hostels to alleviate the challenges girls face walking long distances to school. “It is our hope that in future the girls we are seeing today will become nurses, doctors and lawyers,” said Mutharika in May as she commissioned a K120 Million girls hostel at Emvuyeni Community Day Secondary School in Mzimba district. The hostels give girls who had dropped out due to early pregnancies or child marriages the opportunity to return to school. Knowing they are protected and supported, girls choose school and avoid abuse and violence.

As Malawi and foreign aid invest money and resources in improving the quality of life for girls, girls receive education in Malawi, are empowered and gain greater opportunities in their future.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr


With a population of around 17 million, the small African state of Malawi has substantially high rates of diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and diarrheal diseases. AIDS has consistently been prevalent in Malawi, with 27 percent of the population currently either infected with HIV or diagnosed with AIDS.

The people of Malawi have not lost hope to these common diseases in Malawi, as numbers are declining and life-saving treatments are becoming readily accessible. AIDS has historically been a disease that not many come back from, but with innovative antiretroviral treatments (ART) the virus (HIV) has become manageable.

In 2011, about 67 percent of all children and adults diagnosed with AIDS or infected with HIV in Malawi were receiving ART. The World Health Organization (WHO) helped with the foundation of 716 clinics in the country. As of December 2015, these clinics were administering the treatment to over 870,000 people.

In addition to AIDS, malaria has an association with the entire continent of Africa. An estimated 3.3 million inhabitants living in Malawi have contracted malaria. This statistic is astonishing considering the population in Malawi is only around 17 million. Due to its extreme prevalence, doctors and health care professionals are always searching to find solutions to this problem.

According to UNICEF, an African child dies every 30 seconds as a result of malaria. To combat the situation, UNICEF has partnered with the government of Malawi and various other international organizations. One way they have found a solution is through subsidizing mosquito nets. At one hospital, purchasing mosquito nets only costs a mere 20 cents.

Although children across the continent are being killed by this deadly disease every few seconds, it is pregnant mothers who are the most concerning. In their case, both the mother and baby can contract the disease. Thankfully the fix is easy, requiring pregnant mothers to take anti-malaria pills only twice during their pregnancy. This medicine fights various side effects of malaria in both the mother and the baby.

Fighting common diseases in Malawi cannot be done solely by taking medications and receiving vaccines. Diarrheal deaths are among the most common disease deaths in Malawi. However, a healthy lifestyle is essential to fighting this epidemic. Nutritious food and an unpolluted environment are necessary for lowering the number of people affected by diarrheal deaths. Around 10 million people in Malawi still do not have access to purified water, which exacerbates the problem of diarrheal disease-induced mortality.

These common diseases in Malawi are manageable in various ways. With the help of organizations such as the WHO and numerous nonprofits, Malawi has hope for the future in eradicating these diseases. Services such as subsidizing mosquito nets and offering ART across Malawi have already made substantial improvements in the lives of millions.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr