Partnership Drives Development
Empowering and creating partnerships with local actors is a longstanding tenet of effective development projects. When those in need rely too heavily on outside influences, regardless of their intentions, they risk losing control of the resources and decision-making best left to those closest to the problem. Partnership with local actors gives development projects the best chance of being effective and sustainable. Here are three examples of how partnership drives development.


In 2009, the community of Agra, India — home to the iconic Taj Mahal — suffered from a water sanitation crisis. Waste collection and disposal became nonexistent and a large majority of residents practiced open defecation. As waste flowed into the Yamuna river of which locals relied for irrigation and drinking, residents risked exposure to polio, typhoid, dysentery and cholera.

In partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, a USAID-supported non-governmental organization (NGO), Agra’s governing municipality constructed a wastewater treatment plant to protect the water source used by the 2,000 community members living in Agra.

The plant employs natural processes requiring minimal power and maintenance; however, the true indicator of the project’s success came in 2017, when Agra’s municipality took over all operations from outside actors and ensured clean drinking water for the people of Agra for years to come.


In another example of how partnership drives development, the Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) program is partnering with the government of Malawi to recruit and hire 300 medical workers to combat the HIV epidemic. In Malawi, more than 900,000 people currently live with HIV. To add to the problem, the country suffers from a severe shortage of healthcare professionals needed to address this issue.

While the program only started in November 2017, facility managers from the HIV-freighted Lilongwe and Zomba districts have already noted the positive impact of the increase in workers. Furthermore, the local government has signed an agreement to take on financial responsibility for the new workers by 2020, committing to self-reliance and sustainability.


In addition to increasing access to a network of health professionals, the community of Tabora, Tanzania highlights the effectiveness of another way of combating HIV — male circumcision. Studies suggest that male circumcision reduces transmission in heterosexual men by near 60 percent, and is a powerful preventative tool, especially in combination with other approaches.

In an example of how partnership drives development, The USAID-funded Strengthening High-Impact Interventions for an AIDS-free Generation (AIDSFree) project is partnering with the Tabora regional health administration to increase access to voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). A standard bearer of the cause, traditional healer Albert Cosmas acts as a VMMC ambassador, encouraging other men to have the procedure and thereby helping reduce the HIV footprint in Tabora.

When development agencies make top-down decisions without partnership with local actors, they risk harming the communities they aim to serve. Indeed, “acting in collaborative partnership” is explicitly included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These three stories illustrate the powerful impact of a bottom-up approach that empowers local actors with the capacity to carry progress into the future.

– Whiting Tennis
Photo: Flickr

The Progression of Water Sanitation in MalawiWater sanitation in Malawi is improving a great deal, but unfortunately not enough to sustain the growth of the population. In Malawi, it is estimated that 2.4 million people lack safe water and roughly 47 percent of the population must travel 30 minutes or more to obtain clean water. Malawi possesses access to water, though, and is rich in sources such as: large lakes, rivers and aquifers. However, there are critical factors that make these large water sources dangerous to consume.

Water Contaminants

While water may be abundant, the natural resource is not free of dangerous microorganisms or industrial and organic contaminants. For example, Cholera is one of the most dangerous and life-threatening microorganisms found in water sources of Malawi and many other countries.

These water sources are also compromised by fluctuation in rainfall that has decreased over the years. In fact, studies have shown that only about six percent of the population has access to proper water sanitation in Malawi.

Pump Aid

Pump Aid is an organization that works toward changing water sanitation in Malawi, and numerous other African countries, by working with local authorities to install elephant pump technology. Pump Aid was established in 1998, and has since delivered over 4,230 pumps to improve water sanitation in Malawi. Pump Aid has been successful in improving the quality of water all over Africa.

Elephant pumps are made from concrete casting and supply clean water through a rope and washer system. As the pump handle turns, the water is drawn up by plastic washers secured to a rope. The elephant pump then lifts water from up to 50 meters deep and can produce one liter of water every second. These pumps are designed to be easily maintained by the local villages.

Spreading Influence

Pump Aid tested the first elephant pump in Zimbabwe and has since installed many more throughout Africa. Pump Aid manually digs the wells of the water sources, and never uses machinery to install the pumps for sustainability purposes. The manual labor creates jobs while also training villagers how to mechanically maintain the pump. Also, using machinery would dramatically increase the cost of the installation, and the harsh landscape will not always allow access for large machinery.

Pump Aid has had great influence over water sanitation in Malawi, and plans to continue making a difference all over Africa. The organization has found a cost-effective way to improve the water sanitation in Malawi and reduce infant death dramatically. The clean, electrolyte rich water has decreased water borne illness and allowed for food crop growth. Therefore, improving the water sanitation in Malawi has also improved the nutritional status of many children.

In addition to lowering deaths, Pump Aid has also provided jobs via the installation of water pumps. These tools provide economic growth, and Pump Aid plans to continue these improvements into the future.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in Malawi
According to the U.K. Business Insider, Malawi was ranked one of the poorest countries in the world in 2017. Malawi is located between Zambia and Tanzania in Africa and approximately 74 percent of its population lives in poverty. This level of poverty has a great impact on the healthcare in Malawi. There are less than 300 registered doctors and 7,000 nurses in the entire country.

The number one cause of death in Malawi is HIV/AIDS, while neonatal disorders rank number four and nutritional deficiencies rank number eight. The healthcare in Malawi suffers greatly from the lack of provided funding which causes a lack of supplies. Also, there is a considerable lack of training for healthcare professionals, a factor that results in an infant mortality rate of approximately 90 deaths for every 1,000 births.

The healthcare in Malawi, or lack thereof, has a major impact on nutritional status. It is estimated that 50 percent of malnutrition is directly related to HIV infection. Only 19 percent of children between the ages of six months and 23 months of age receive a proper diet in Malawi. This lack of nutrition causes extreme anemia, vitamin A deficiencies and other micronutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies cause stunting of the child’s growth which has negative impacts on their overall development. Only one out of every three children receive proper healthcare in Malawi to treat malnutrition.

Fortunately, there are programs that are trying to improve the overall healthcare in Malawi. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been working with the healthcare system in Malawi since 2011. The CDC has provided scholarships for nurse-midwives and other professionals for training. The U.S. government has also partnered with the Malawi Ministry of Health (MOH) to incorporate training programs for healthcare professionals, improve surveillance systems, improve laboratories and implement prevention programs.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has acknowledged that half of Malawi’s children are stunted from malnutrition and that 23 percent of child deaths are associated with malnutrition. The WFP was organized to raise awareness all over the world for these children of Malawi. Also, in 2011, the Republic of Malawi launched SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) which raises money for MOH to send to the local facilities. SUN is largely funded by the USAID and Irish Aid. The USAID has also funded the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III (FANTA III). This program provides nutrition assessment, counseling, support and HIV treatment programs.

The healthcare in Malawi is still struggling a great deal to provide proper care and improve the nutritional status of children. In 2003, Ripple Africa was created as a charity that focuses on improving healthcare in Malawi. Ripple Africa focuses on funding dispensaries and local clinics and hospitals. This charity relies on overseas volunteer doctors and nurses to provide much assistance. With these programs assisting the healthcare in Malawi, the system will hopefully continue to improve and save lives.

– Kristen Hibbett

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Malawi
With severe poverty automatically comes hardships and struggles, and Malawians are no strangers to this reality. A largely agricultural country located in southeastern Africa, poverty in Malawi is widespread among the population of more than 18 million. Landlocked by Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique, Malawi is faced with 50.7 percent of the population living below the poverty line, and a staggering 25 percent living in what is considered to be extreme poverty.

The Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN), gives insight to the widespread poverty among Malawians by defining poverty: “…as a state of continuous deprivation or a lack of the basics of life.”

Similar to most poverty-stricken areas, their government lacks the means to expand the economy, meaning Malawians oftentimes do not receive adequate healthcare, environmental protection or education. Below is a list of five pertinent facts that illuminate the poverty that Malawians face on a daily basis.

5 Facts About Poverty in Malawi:

  1. Defined by the World Bank, individuals live on $1.90 per day.
  2. Fewer than one in ten Malawians have access to electricity.
  3. Over 90,000 individuals live with HIV/AIDS.
  4. Poor children are more likely to drop out of school before they reach Standard 5, according to the SARPN.
  5. SARPN also reports that a majority of the poor reside in rural areas, where there are limited economic activities and subsistence agriculture is the main income.

Although the majority of the people in Malawi live in destitute conditions, it is deservingly known as the “Warm Heart of Africa” because the residents are known to be among the friendliest and hospitable to tourists.

It is important to note that among the struggles and inconveniences, Malawians are increasing their quality of life more and more as the years go on. Listed below are five facts delineating the efforts being made to combat poverty in Malawi, according to the Malawi Vision 2020 Statement:

5 Facts About Combating Poverty in Malawi:

  1. The Malawi Vision 2020 Statement — a document created by Malawians themselves — is the framework for expressing self-reliance, equal opportunities and the desire as a nation to be a middle-income economy powered by technology.
  2. A goal for the Malawians is to flourish into a middle-income country, with a per capita income of $1,000 by the year 2020.
  3. With the hopes of obtaining adequate and safe access to food, Malawians will focus their energies on increasing food production, developing irrigation, improving efficiency of markers and numerous other strategies. They hope to encourage community leaders to take the first steps and visit research stations to learn about new and valuable technologies.
  4. Employment opportunities are often considered scarce, so Malawians aspire to reduce unemployment with techniques such as increasing commercial farming to enhance employment in agriculture. This will help aid in a fair and equitable influx of income.
  5. The result of inadequate resources promotes Malawians to strive for an economic infrastructure that will include the provision of roads, rail water, air transport, provision of water and sanitation services.

Efforts being made by works such as the Malawi Vision 2020 Statement set the tone of a less impoverished nation for millions of individuals. The people of Malawi are taking strides and uniting together to generate a more sound and prosperous country.

– Angelina Gillespie

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in MalawiMalawians have faced many obstacles to the growth and development of their country. Malawi has struggled with successful infrastructure development due to economic and natural disasters and currently has plans in effect to reduce poverty and increase urbanization for its people. Because of its rapid population growth, urbanization and infrastructure in Malawi are crucial for the nation’s survival and success.


Malawi’s poverty rate has barely changed from 2010 to 2016, falling from 70.9 percent to 69.6 percent. In 2014, Malawi faced an economic scandal known as “cashgate” in which government officials were laundering millions from government reserves. The cashgate scandal caused many donors to withdraw their funding, which resulted in more detriment to the nation because 40 percent of Malawi’s wealth comes from independent donors. While it was very publicized, it was not the first time donors withdrew from the Malawian government due to the corruption within it. This kind of scandal has affected Malawians, as well as infrastructure in Malawi.

Flood Crisis

Infrastructure in Malawi faced a large-scale flood in January 2016 which severely impacted the country’s development. The widespread flood wiped out several villages and much of the country’s agriculture. This has left Malawi in the largest food crisis in a decade. With a significant amount of damage to the country’s people and agriculture (part of country’s economic gains), the economy in Malawi has struggled to prioritize infrastructure development. Many solutions included providing short-term shelter for Malawians who had suffered from the disaster.


Non-Agricultural Development

While efforts to reboot the economy and its agricultural efforts continue, Malawi cannot keep up with its steady population growth. Due to the increasing population, farms are shrinking and limiting economic productivity. As agricultural jobs decrease, infrastructure in Malawi leans toward the creation of non-agricultural jobs in education, finance, and energy. Malawi currently uses hydro-power, and due to climate change and sporadic rain, the country often experiences water shortages and blackouts. Creating more infrastructure, especially providing additional resources for electricity, will benefit Malawi and increase the economy. The plans to develop in the non-agricultural sector will speed up the urbanization process for Malawians.



The creation of jobs encourages the creation of infrastructure and vice versa. To combat the nation’s poverty, The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) was created in 2006. The goal of the MGDS is to encourage continued economic growth and infrastructure in Malawi. The MGDS is meant to create long-term jobs for Malawians in mining, trade, and tourism and culture. Another goal is to encourage the use of the environment and natural resources. Utilization of Malawi’s culture and wildlife will increase tourism to create more economic growth. Creating jobs within Malawi’s government, such as in the health and safety sectors, will also provide more growth for the nation’s economy and help the people of Malawi to overcome poverty. In addition to practical job creation and tourism growth, the MGDS will consist of urban improvements such as in airports, more media/telecommunications sources, and housing developments.

While the recent history of Malawi has not been hopeful, the country’s prospects predict a brighter tomorrow for Malawians.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Malawi
The Malawi government, along with aid from the World Bank and others, has spent the past few years creating a new and improved agricultural policy for sustainable agriculture in Malawi. The main purpose in the new agricultural policy is refocusing smallholder subsistence farming to commercial approaches and as a result, sustainable agriculture in Malawi has significantly improved.

Economic Impact of Malawi’s Agricultural Industry

Malawi’s agricultural industry affects their economy directly, as one third of their gross domestic products come from agriculture. The industry provides employment, reduces poverty, ensures food security and contributes to nutrition. With this wide-reaching presence, the country has clearly taken this development project as being one of high-priority.

Malawi is also working towards becoming a secure, mature, sustainable and technology-driven country and has numerous goals the nation hopes to achieve by the year 2020. These goals involve a variety of foci, such as droughts, economic expansion, education, health care, environmental protection and financial stability.


New Agricultural Policies

The country’s new policies have developed through the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Project (ASWAp-SP). Malawi’s new policy comes with three different sub-policies that all work to strengthen the agriculture sector. These three sub-policies are:

  1. The National Agriculture Policy (NAP)
  2. The Revised National Seed Policy
  3. The Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR)

With such attention to detail through these more specific policies, the hope for Malawi is more than bright.


The National Agriculture Policy

The National Agriculture Policy is centered on commercialization to promote growth in the agriculture industry. The policy transitions farming communities from subsistence production to non-traditional high-value agricultural chains that will generate more money, as well as create the necessary actions to ensure that these efforts are successful.

The enforcement of this policy includes: sustainable irrigation development, mechanization of agriculture, market development and much more. The government of Malawi hopes with NAP that management of agriculture resources improves and incomes increase — results that would lower the country’s poverty rate and improve nutrition levels.

The Revised National Seed Policy

The Revised National Seed Policy is Malawi’s policy to realize the crop production and productivity goals, and the importance of the quality of the seed. The revised seed policy will provide regulation and control of all seeds, while also protect consumers and dealers to improve to a responsible seed industry.


The Strategic Grain Reserve

The Strategic Grain Reserve will protect the country from maize production deficits, as maize is the major grain for food in Malawi. The new policy will require an early release of funding to procure grain during harvesting and will have a member-committee oversee the maize in both emergency and non-emergency circumstances. The policy also addresses grain storage issues, quality control problems and recycling of the stock.

As of 2017, Malawi’s GDP growth rate is expected to increase from 2.5 percent in 2016 to 4.5 percent. Overall, the new policies installed work to incite the hope of an increase of the sustainable agriculture in Malawi. With the new policies, the agriculture sector of the country will increase — an effort that should also improve the economy, increase employment and reduce hunger and poverty.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to Malawi
Malawi, a country in eastern Africa, has long battled with issues of governmental corruption, famine and widespread disease. However, in recent years, Malawi has seen vast improvement in important areas of societal life, with most of that improvement being a result of focused effort of international aid programs that increase the successful return of humanitarian aid to Malawi.

With 2017 having drawn to a close, the success of humanitarian aid efforts and investments to the country of Malawi are most noticeable in two distinct categories: technological advancements and food security.


In regard to technology, the most recent “hot-button” word in Malawi is drones. As of this month, UNICEF has reported the completion of a corridor for testing drones, the first of its kind in both the country, region and in the continent of Africa as a whole.

The corridor was built in the Kasungu district of Malawi, in the Kasungu Aerodrome, and according to UNICEF officials, the drones piloted in and out are planned to be used to further humanitarian causes and programs.

In a press release, UNICEF said that the drones would focus on aerial imaging, Wi-Fi and cell phone signals and transportation of goods, food and medical supplies — much like the drones that were built and piloted in the 2016 testing of the program. The early machines were put through various trials such as transporting dried blood samples from infants for HIV testing in remote clinics.

Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango said that the Malawi government was already looking into using the drones to respond to natural disasters like floods and fires.

Food Security

With food sustainability, numbers have improved dramatically from September and October’s low statistics. In late 2016 and early 2017, the majority of Malawian households reported a minimal to crisis level of food security, meaning that families didn’t know where their next meal was coming from, or if it was even coming at all. Malawian crops in recent years have been affected by both an unstable economy and a surge of armyworm infestations, as well as a long-lasting and regional-spanning drought.

Humanitarian Aid to Malawi

According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, humanitarian aid to Malawi has caused an 87 percent decrease in low food security for households in the Malawi districts of Balaka and Machinga.

Project Concern International (PCI), Feed the Future and Concern Worldwide distributed more than 22,800 crop storage bags, trained 225 households across 45 communities on the use of the bags and collectively raised over $500,000 to improve food security and agricultural sustainability in Malawi in 2017.

In addition, USAID/OFDA provided a total of more than $3.5 million in 2017 to partner organizations to aid in the recovery of water sanitation and hygiene interventions.

Heading into 2018, Malawi’s food sustainability and security is on the rise, the country has embraced new technological solutions to humanitarian crises and the future looks brighter than it has in years past.

– Arianna Smith

Photo: Flickr

Known to be one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi relies heavily on international aid, as well as support from financial institutions. They are a country which suffers from climate change, as well as a lack of resources to provide economic opportunities towards their population. As part of the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRFG) program, the aim is to continue with their economic agenda; emphasizing transparency and robust policymaking. Landlocked in Sub-Saharan Africa, they have been recipients of numerous international aid packages. The most recent case of humanitarian aid to Malawi came in 2016 and 2017 when a drought resulted in the direct aid to some 6.7 million people – 40 percent of the population.

When it comes to the word “drone,” negative connotations are usually affiliated with the term due to the influence of agencies such as the media and stories that relate to wars and violence. However, the creation of a revitalized air corridor in recent months by the United Nation’s UNICEF has the potential of distorting the misconceptions and revitalizing the way humanitarianism works. Africa could well have their hands on the first humanitarian drone to access remote areas far easier to provide assistance to some of the most vulnerable. The drone focuses on three primary areas:

  • Generating and analyzing aerial images for developing areas and assisting during humanitarian crises
  • Exploring the possibility of using drones to expand Wi-Fi or cell phone signals
  • Transporting medical supplies

According to Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango, these drones will not be used for the first time, as they have been previously used to respond to natural disasters. One of the contingent uses for the drones will be to deliver medical supplies to cater to the 1.2 million people (or a quarter of the population) affected by HIV/AIDs.

The lack of infrastructure impedes the ability for other vehicles to reach rural destinations where people are in need of the right medical testing kit and samples. With the humanitarian drone corridor now being tested, local communities will be able to observe the reduction in waiting time in receiving immediate medical assistance.

Moreover, this project has the potential of rejuvenating the way humanitarian aid to Malawi is operated, with many companies eager to test the use of this new air corridor. Apparently, 12 companies have already jumpstarted to apply and test this new device since its announcement at the end of 2016.

Over the last decade, Malawi has been in constant reliance on IMF aid packages, directed towards reforming government social protection programs. Much skepticism has been drawn from their human rights record under their former leader President Bingu wa Mutharika. Under his leadership, international organizations retracted the amount of aid they have administered in the past. According to Country Watch the “number of people facing food shortages in Malawi had increased since 2011 to 1.63 million.” With 65.3 percent of their population living beneath the poverty line, deployment of aid packages in destitute areas will be an effective tool in providing basic humanitarian aid to Malawi.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in Malawi
Out of 15 million people living in Malawi, 52 percent are women, and many of these women have suffered from illiteracy and certain cultural practices for many years. However, the Malawi government in partnership with UNFPA created the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) project in 2012, aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Malawi, to combat such difficulties.

The project has helped the most vulnerable groups in Malawi from survivors of gender-based violence, to people living with HIV and AIDS, and young girls lacking education because of gender or poverty-related reasons.

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has in fact been a serious issue faced by women in Malawi, as USAID declared the country to be one of 35 GBV-priority countries in 2014. To address this serious development challenge, the GEWE project established one-stop centers in all 13 districts of Malawi, which offer comprehensive services to GDB survivors. Law enforcers received a special training in gender-related laws and rights, in order to effectively provide services to victims of GDB.

The Government of Malawi, with the help of GEWE, put in place sector working groups, including one sector working group on gender, children, youth and sports. Those groups were led by community individuals and aimed to monitor violations of women’s rights and promote gender equality.

Women’s empowerment in Malawi also improved with the implementation of village savings and loan (VSL) clubs through the GEWE Programme. These innovative clubs economically empowered women by giving them the opportunity to access loans and start their small businesses.

USAID also participated in strengthening women’s empowerment in Malawi by giving women more political power. In fact, USAID’s electoral and decentralization activity increased participation rates of women during electoral and political processes. This was achieved by creating civic and voter education campaigns, ensuring that media firms provide a fair and accurate coverage of elections, and train for both female and male moderators to conduct focus group opinion studies.

– Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

Solar Power in MalawiMalawi’s Ministry of Health has several ongoing efforts in developing its healthcare system and facilities. After experiencing continuous long-term power outages which interrupted the healthcare systems, the Ministry decided to start a solar power project to solve the issues in the healthcare facilities. Solar power in Malawi can change the future for the country’s hospitals and the overall healthcare system.

Not only have the power outages affected Malawi’s healthcare facilities throughout the years, but they have also affected many businesses and factories. For manufacturing companies, most of the production has stopped due to the lack of electricity. This interruption of work has threatened the growth of these businesses. Further, the generators that some businesses and buildings use are expensive to run, which has resulted in an increase in the retail price of goods and has hurt the economy in Malawi.

The power outages have been reported to last up to 8 hours at a time. As such, many of the machines required to save lives in hospitals, such as oxygen machines, are unable to run. These machines require constant power and with an unstable power source, it can have detrimental effects on many lives of the Malawi people.

The Ministry of Health, along with the Global Fund Project Implementation Unit, has decided to ensure solar power in Malawi. With a focus on the health facilities, the Ministry is installing solar power units at 85 health facilities throughout the nation. Its goal is to save lives with solar power by preventing disruptions, especially in important areas of hospitals such as the maternity wing, intensive care unit and the area for children under five. The solar panels being installed will provide 100kW of power for the hospitals.

Healthcare centers in remote areas have been affected by power outages the worst. While being affected less by power outages, the hospitals in the larger cities have still had to rely on generators to keep the hospital running, which tends to be expensive.

Malawi’s power outages have cost the country a lot of money as a result of relying on generators to keep many hospitals working. With the installation of solar panels, the country hopes to use the saved money to develop its healthcare system and facilities in other ways.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr