The COVID-19 pandemic displayed a significant impact on the world’s economic situation and presented numerous challenges for several countries. One such country is Malawi, located in the Southern part of Africa. In 2020, Malawi stood at 174 from a sum of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. This article delves deeper into the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Malawi in terms of economic activity, education and food security.
In response to the pandemic, several governments around the world adopted restriction measures on imports and exports. Such safety measures displayed numerous ramifications on Malawi’s economy. This is especially since it heavily relies on imports pertinent to energy, agriculture and health among others. For instance, 80% of the overall population is employed by the agricultural sector, which also accounts for 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Scarce availability of such rudimentary resources caused the cost of living to increase, and in 2020, 17% of the general public lived below the poverty line. One can attribute such a decline in Malawi’s economic activity to heightened government spending during the pandemic, which accounted for $345 million. In 2020, the fiscal deficit stood at 7.7%, and economic growth declined to 1.7% compared to 5.7% in 2019.
To help curb the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Malawi, the country’s government launched cash aid for affected households and small-sized business entities. The cash aid encapsulates aiding around 1 million eligible households and businesses with $40 monthly payments, equivalent to 35,000 Malawi Kwacha.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many countries to shift from traditional to virtual education. This shift placed much emphasis on access to technological facilities among pupils. Increased poverty rates in Malawi, impeded learners’ ability to access online education due to limited internet facilities. According to UNICEF, COVID-19 caused students’ performance to plummet across the country. As a result, the Malawi government contracted with Telecom Network Malawi (TNM). TLM is an internet company, which, as part of the agreement, provided free unlimited internet packages to students. This agreement enabled learners across all different levels to obtain equal access to online education, especially since COVID-19 halted the education for 5.4 million students from both schools and universities.
The impact of COVID-19 economic growth and poverty in Malawi yielded devastating results for the overall population. The outbreak of COVID-19 contributed to widespread disproportionate food insecurity. One can primarily attribute challenges relevant to nutritional support to rising poverty and declining agricultural productivity. To mitigate against food insecurity, UNICEF for instance, supported the government of Malawi in the delivery of adequate nutritional support. Other efforts to curtail hunger include World Food Programme assistance (WFP). Through funding via USAID, WFP provides financial and nutritional support to 382,000 food-deprived Malawians. Efforts such as those, assist the Malawian people to recover and survive in the midst of a food crisis, as well as allow the general public to lead healthy and sustainable lives.
The emergence of the pandemic on the global level, contributed to increased poverty and unemployment rates, alongside a declining economy. Measures and initiatives such as those that the WFP and government implemented enable the nation to undergrow economic recovery, as well as improve the living conditions across the country.