combating HIVAIDS in MalawiAccording to UNAIDS, approximately 1 million people in Malawi were affected by HIV/AIDS in 2017, with a prevalence rate of 9.6% among individuals aged 15-49. Sex workers and gay men are particularly vulnerable, with HIV prevalence rates of 60% and 17% respectively. However, there has been progress in combating HIV/AIDS in Malawi and between 2010 and 2017, AIDS-related deaths decreased by about 50%.

Malawi aims to have 95% of people living with HIV aware of their status by 2025. Despite the reduction in AIDS-related deaths, the country still has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates among adults aged 15 to 49.

With 13 million people living below the poverty line out of a population of 21 million, STD-related health care is often unaffordable for those facing financial hardships. Moreover, disparities in health care resources contribute to the lack of a rapid HIV/AIDS response, with rural areas having limited access to treatment compared to urban areas.

Prioritizing Testing and Treatments

According to 2017 data, out of the 1 million individuals who live with HIV/AIDS in Malawi, 90% receive antiretroviral therapy. However, a 2020 study revealed that antiretroviral therapy failure and drug resistance are common among those undergoing HIV treatment.

A 2020 observational study led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Malawi College of Medicine and the University of Cambridge found that antiretroviral therapy failure and drug resistance are common among those receiving HIV treatment.

Recent research published in the Lancet found more than 80% of patients have resistance to two or more HIV antiretroviral drugs and 95% of patients have undetectable HIV loads as of 2020. The study also revealed that patients with resistance to multiple HIV drugs were 70% more likely to experience a clinical death within two months of checking into the hospital compared to those without drug resistance.

With one-third of patients failing to receive therapy fast enough, timely diagnosis and switching patients to alternative antiretroviral therapies have contributed to better patient outcomes in Malawi.

Barriers to HIV/AIDS

Despite significant reductions in HIV infections, individuals living below the poverty line in Malawi continue to face the greatest impact. Malawi is one of the poorest countries across the globe.

As one of the poorest countries globally, Malawi’s higher HIV prevalence may be attributed to inconsistent detection rates stemming from differences in surveillance and registration centers. This marked difference may also be related to Socioeconomic factors, such as poverty and limited emphasis on screening programs and public health services such as the NHS, which contribute to health inequalities.

The unequal distribution of health care resources exacerbates the challenges in combating HIV/AIDS in Malawi. Urban areas, where individuals are more likely to afford private health care systems, have better access to resources compared to rural areas, resulting in lower treatment rates for the latter.

However, barriers to HIV-related health care extend beyond poverty and finances. Stigma and prejudice surrounding HIV deter individuals from seeking care and concerns about confidentiality at testing sites further discourage communities from accessing services.

Gay men in Malawi experience a disproportionate impact from HIV/AIDS. The Ministry of Health estimated that 35% of men in Malawi had not been tested for HIV/AIDS in 2017. Addressing this disparity requires additional support and funding for home testing initiatives.

Progression in Malawi

Awareness surrounding sexual health and faster screening techniques has improved the health of Malawians with HIV/AIDS over the last two decades. Antiretroviral therapy coverage has significantly increased, with an estimated 91% of those living with HIV receiving treatment in 2021 compared to only 43% in 2012.  There were 78,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2005 compared to 13,000 in 2020, a decline of around 83%. Overall, increased funding and implementation support has resulted in a marked improvement in HIV in Malawi from previous years.

Helping the Cause

While Malawi’s government has continued to provide treatments and support for HIV/AIDS, an organization founded in 1972 named Action Aid helps those from marginalized groups across rural and urban communities in Africa. Action Aid works alongside local communities, governments and institutions for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The organization advocates for improved access to HIV/AIDS-related health care, including antiretroviral drugs and good nutrition. Through partnerships with local communities, governments and institutions, Action Aid advocates for improved access to HIV/AIDS-related health care, including antiretroviral drugs and good nutrition. Collaborations with organizations like the Makerere Women’s Development Association (MWDA) and the Kuluhiro (Hope) support group ensure psychosocial therapy, counseling and access to antiretroviral treatments, as well as economic opportunities through farm projects.

What is Next?

An Oxford Academic report suggests that continued foreign aid is essential for widespread testing and comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs, as 99% of HIV funding comes from international financial support. Foreign aid plays a crucial role in sustaining and expanding efforts in combating HIV/AIDS in Malawi.

– Rupinder Kaur
Photo: Rawpixel

Poverty in MalawiLocated in Africa’s Southern region, Malawi is a nation-state with a size comparable to that of the state of Pennsylvania and a population estimated to reach a little more than 20 million by July 2020. The country is primarily dependent on the agricultural sector which employs close to 80% of the population and remains predominantly rural. Poverty in Malawi is very high and it manifests itself in various indicators, such as in the economy, education and health care, rendering it one of Africa’s poorest nations. Here are six facts about poverty in Malawi.

6 Facts About Poverty in Malawi

  1. Throughout the past few decades, Malawi had made tangible progress in several areas of human development. For instance, primary education completion rates have increased by 17% between 2004 and 2013. Meanwhile, mortality rates for children under 5 decreased by approximately 48% between 2004 and 2015. Similarly, the country’s maternal health has improved as mothers are receiving necessary prenatal and birth care as well as increasingly using contraceptives.
  2. Despite the abovementioned improvements, Malawi continues to have high poverty rates, posing substantial challenges to human development and growth in the African nation’s quality of life. In 2017, its GDP per capita (PPP) amounted to only $1,200, leading it to rank among the poorest countries in the world.
  3. In 2016, Malawi’s poverty rate reached 51.5%. That number remained slightly unchanged at 52% in 2018, according to a 2018 integrated household report, which emerged as a result of a joint effort between the Malawian government and UNICEF. The report also highlights child poverty as a particularly problematic issue as more than two-thirds of children in rural areas in Malawi live in poverty.
  4. Higher poverty rates in a given society tend to go hand in hand with sizable challenges underpinning the state of the economy. Malawi’s dependence on agriculture implies that climate-related problems can be a serious threat to its national economic wellbeing. This was the case during the 2015 and 2016 drought, which negatively impacted the country’s economy. Alinafe Nhlane, a mother and farmer in Muona Village, exemplified another instance of Malawi’s economic volatility when she recounted that she had lost all of her crops as a result of the 2019 Cyclone Idai.
  5. In addition to the fact that an estimated 1 million Malawians are living with HIV/AIDS and that the degree of risk of infection with diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever and malaria is very high, the physician/population ratio in the country is quite low at 0.02 in 2016. In light of the recent COVID-19 global developments, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres, expressed her fears that the spread of the virus, even if minuscule, could be destructive to the country’s feeble health care system.
  6. On the other hand, it is notable that UNICEF and U.K. Aid have worked to distribute hygiene and sanitation materials throughout Malawian districts to lead the fight against the virus. Ms. Nhlane also benefited from the $33 she received from the World Food Program (WFP), aid which she will use to feed her family.

Looking Ahead

Malawi indeed continues to face paramount challenges that threaten the very livelihood and wellbeing of its citizens. Nonetheless, it has improved in many aspects including child health. For progress to spread and increase in scope and magnitude, however, it remains critical for the efforts addressing poverty in Malawi to carry on.

– Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

reduce poverty in Malawi
In 2016, about 51% of Malawians lived in poverty, an improvement from 65% in 1997. Still, with 76.9% of the population employed in the agriculture industry, frequent droughts and floods are major issues that devastate farmers and Malawi’s economy. Keep reading to learn how irrigation projects are working to reduce poverty in Malawi.

Flood Control and Irrigation Systems

Flood control and irrigation systems funnel floodwater into areas of storage for future use. One system is diversion canals, such as the Red River Floodway in Winnipeg, Canada. The diversion canal prevented 10s of billions of dollars in damage since 1968 and is the second-largest earthmoving project after the Panama Canal. Diversion canals are artificial floodways that send floodwater to ponds, rivers, reservoirs and irrigation systems. Most farmers do not relocate unlike the displacement that a dam causes to locals in the dam’s region. Although the Red River Pathway is a highly ornate design, a basic diversion canal helps indirectly reduce poverty in Malawi and benefits those that crop-damaging floodwaters affect.

The pathways direct flooded water away from homes and crops so that it flows into rivers, ponds and artificial lakes. The pathways directing floodwater that destroy homes and land are a long-term solution to floods and droughts. The downside to these pathways is the unknown cost of infrastructure necessary to accomplish this system as no one, including Malawi, has proposed or implemented major developments in the country.

Infrastructure Development

A prerequisite to water management is infrastructure development to provide stored water from floods to irrigation systems. Pipes allocate water to farmers, whether above or below ground and irrigation systems, such as surge flooding, bring a simple solution to irrigation for a country where only 9% have electricity. Surge flooding is a system of gradually releasing small amounts of water into the land. This allows for better infiltration and less runoff.

Malawi relies heavily on charities and countries for aid, and developmental progress has been slow. The country ranks as one of the least developed countries. Investment in the county’s infrastructure could reduce poverty in Malawi, help the economy grow and diversify into other areas besides agriculture, such as the energy, telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, information technology and tourism sectors. Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima has been Vice President of Malawi since 2014 and stated a need for change in not only investment in infrastructure development, but also many other areas that are undeveloped. He understood that half of all Malawians, particularly women in rural regions, are in extreme poverty and that an emphasis on development is the key to the country’s future success.

Climatic Effects on the Economy

Climatic changes frequently affect Malawi, though it receives support externally. Recently, the World Bank donated $70 million to Malawi to help it recover from Cyclone Idai, yet external aid is simply a short-term solution. Improving infrastructure to combat climatic changes, such as cyclones, floods and droughts, supports the people of Malawi that have crops that natural disasters easily damage. Floods and droughts destroy crops that more than 80% of Malawians rely on for food and a meager income. One solution to reduce the cycle of flood, drought and famine is through an intelligent design implementing irrigation and flood control across Malawi.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Malawi
Malawi is a landlocked country in southern Africa with an increasing population. Malawi currently has a population of about 17.2 million people. One in four Malawians lives in extreme poverty such that about 2.8 million people in the country are fighting hunger. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Malawi.

Top 10 facts about hunger in Malawi

  1. A food crisis has lasted for decades – Malawi has been experiencing severe food crisis for decades. Around 1949 and 1950, Malawi had a severe famine, and in October of 2001, reports of a famine were once again spread in rural Malawi. The government did not believe the rumors and did not act on them until hunger struck in 2002. At that time, at least 500 people died of starvation and hunger-related diseases. By 2005, approximately 4.7 million Malawians, out of 12 million, still suffered from food shortages. More recently, from July 2016 until March 2017, Malawi had food security and nutrition issues due to El Niño, which led to the president declaring a state of national disaster.
  1. Unreliable weather patterns – Rural Malawians rely on smallholder farming for a living. By cultivating small pieces of land over and over, they expect to harvest enough to feed themselves and their families. Unfortunately, in the last decade, 25 percent of the country has experienced droughts more than seven times. The weather patterns have been unreliable and; as a result, farming has become increasingly difficult. The frequency in which drought and severe flooding occur has been steadily increasing and with such an unpredictable intensity that the farmers hardly have time to recover from the last disaster before they are faced with the next.
  1. Unstable economy – The economic conditions in Malawi are not very favorable. There are high inflation rates, which have resulted in high food prices. Unemployment is on the rise with little to no opportunity for work that pays any kind of living wage. Food prices in 2016 were on a rise countrywide due to a decrease in production. The price of maize was 73 percent higher than the average for the three years prior to that time. Farmers complained about the government not providing fertilizer around that time, but economist Desmond Phiri in Malawi remarked that fertilizer is of no use if there is no rainfall. His solution to the problem of a continuous dry season was irrigation.
  1. Stunting in children under five – Research shows that 37 percent of Malawian children, which is about 1.4 million, suffer from stunted growth because they are chronically under-nourished. World Food Programme (WFP) stated that only 1 out of every 3 children who are undernourished isn’t receiving adequate health care. The same study shows that there is a 30 percent increased risk of anemia in underweight children and that 23 percent of all child mortality cases are associated with under-nutrition. Stunting in children deters their brain development, school performance, immunity and health. Furthermore, there is an annual loss of $67 million due to the fact that 66 percent of the adults currently doing manual activities had been stunted as children,
  1. Malawi’s staple food wilting – Malawi’s staple food, maize, has been affected negatively by the unexpected weather trends and it is wilting. Unconfirmed estimates are that food production in the 2017/ 2018 growing season is going to be reduced by less than 50 percent. Since November 2017, the maize fields in 20 of the 28 rural districts were attacked by fall worms, which destroyed the crops of above 140 000 farming families. The worms have since moved to other African countries where they pose a threat to the maize grown there as well.
  1. Children’s education affected – Stunted growth in Malawi’s children results in them underperforming at school due to slower brain development. Studies by the WFP show that stunted children are more likely to drop out of school. They achieve about 1.5 fewer years of education and are more likely to repeat school. About 18 percent of all school year repetitions are due to the effects of stunted growth. The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development have been carrying out a Cost of Hunger in Africa study. Findings have shown that adequate nutrition is essential for physical and intellectual development as well as work productivity. Productivity at school also requires a good diet, something most of the children in Malawi don’t have.
  1. Food reserves as a solution – The Malawi Project identified climate change as the main factor contributing to hunger in Malawi. Its solution was the introduction of food reserves under the name The Joseph Project. These reserves were noted to be important by world leaders at The Food and Agriculture Organization Summit. The Malawi Project completed the construction of community storage warehouses that are to be used during lean times. With the estimated food crisis that will probably hit Malawi in 2018/ 2019, The Joseph Project will be a sure way to provide food security to the community as the food will only be accessed when the need arises.
  1. Food from the outside – With 17.2 million people living in extreme poverty in Malawi and with the high levels of unemployment, there has been a great need for assistance with food security in the country. The WFP began working with the government of Malawi, together with other partners, to assist in alleviating the food security crisis. They work with the country’s most vulnerable people, which includes the refugees that have settled in Malawi from the areas around the horn of Africa. WFP, prompted by the sustainable development goals, seeks to achieve Zero Hunger by providing food and cash assistance after natural disasters such as the current drought. They have also made various long-term programs to help break the hunger cycle.
  1. Zero Hunger in schools – The WFP also supports Malawian education by providing meals every day to 900 primary and nursery schools, feeding approximately 1 million children. The meals are cooked fresh, and the food is bought off of the local smallholder farms in 10 percent of the schools to give the farmers business so they also have the cash to enable them to keep farming. The WFP also treats malnutrition of about 337,000 children, pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as HIV and TB patients.
  1. Weather insurance – Malawian farmers have begun buying insurance for their crops in the event of droughts. The United Nations’ WFP initiated a Rural Resilience Initiative where farmers can insure their crops against unforeseen natural occurrences through labor. The farmers provide 14 days of work within a two-month period where they create things like irrigation systems, which help when dry seasons happen upon them. An insurance payout of $400,000 will be distributed to more than 7000 families in May of this year to promote increased resilience to the impacts of climate change. Poor farmers without money to get insurance for their crops need not worry about where to borrow from as their labor is just as effective.

These top ten facts about hunger in Malawi tell a little about what Malawians are going through day after day. Although there is still a lot of progress that needs to be done in Malawi, there are people and organizations working to end hunger in the country and provide more stable farming practices throughout times of drought. These solutions could mean the eventual end of food insecurity in Malawi.

– Aquillina Ngowera
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water Access in Malawi
Founded in 1999, Khalsa Aid is a U.K.-based organization that has the aim to provide humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones around the world.

So far, its tireless efforts have included assisting victims of the Yemen Civil War and refugees landing on the shores of Greece from the Middle East, as well as extending support to the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. In a more recent relief project, this organization gave food to 8,000 people who were affected by the floods in Kerala and continues to provide aid to bring life back to normal.

In the recent years, this organization has also made a huge effort in providing clean water in Malawi.

Langar Aid

In 2015, through its long-term initiative Langar Aid, Khalsa Aid dedicated a team for its Malawi Project.

Though considered to be one of the smallest and least developed countries in the African continent, Malawi region is widely known to be the warm heart of Africa. In 2015, the region suffered a major setback from one of its worst floodings and according to the United Nations, close to a quarter of a million people remained displaced, facing disease and malnutrition. With total estimated damages of $50 million and 15 affected districts out of Malawi’s total 28, the Malawi government with the help of UNICEF launched series of relief programs. The aim was to rebuild infrastructure and provide clean water and life-saving food assistance to those affected.

In response to the flooding situation, Khalsa Aid’s humanitarian efforts in Malawi involved initial installation of water pumps in the rural region, and subsequently, the addition of many more water pumps.

In 2015, with the help of donations, the team of Langar Aid went on grounds of Malawi to access the situation and provide assistance to the local communities. After a detailed assessment and consultation, the team felt an urgent need to provide vital food supplies and clean drinking water in the region. A relief team from Khalsa Aid visited the region for an initial assessment and found that many people had no access to clean drinking water due to damaged infrastructure. The team noticed that many people of the country’s town Phalombe had to walk for miles or take a bicycle and carry the buckets of water themselves.

The Success of the Project

Through their interactions with local communities, government and contractors, the team of Khalsa Aid created a permanent water source in the region. The volunteers and team of specialists mobilized drilling resources and after hours of drilling, a suitable water well was found. A hand pump was included on a platform on top of the water well, making it convenient for locals to fetch the water from the well.

Additionally, the people of Malawi along with the village administrative authorities received orientation session and were given handouts explaining the usage and maintenance of installed water pumps. Khalsa Aid now plans on drilling more boreholes in the region of Phalombe to make clean water more accessible for local communities.

Through the project of Langar Aid, Khalsa Aid’s humanitarian efforts in Malawi included an extended support for an estimated 500 families over a month through the provision of “food drops”. These are packages of nutritious meals that contained an assortment of fresh food, vegetables and seasonings. The volunteer team of Langar Aid also installed eco-friendly clean water pumps.

Local government and organizations like WaterAid have also been working to ensure that communities in Malawi region have clean water, toilets and sanitation. Only one in three people in the Malawi region has access to clean water, that amounts to roughly 5.6 million.

A region where more than half the entire population awaits a decent toilet and where dirty water and poor toilets are a prime reason for deaths of 31,000 children in a year, noble initiatives like Khalsa Aid are getting much appreciation and extensive global support.

– Deena Zaidi
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

Poverty in MalawiMalawi is a landlocked African country that is bordered by Tanzania to the northeast, Mozambique to the south and Zambia to the west. The impact of poverty in Malawi can be seen prominently in the agriculture sector.

Malawi ranks 160 out of the existing 182 sovereign nations on the Human Development Index and is currently one of the world’s poorest nations. Nearly three-fourths of the population lives on less than a $1.25 a day, and approximately 90% live on less than $2 a day.

Agriculture makes up 35% of Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP), and nearly 85% of Malawians are employed in the agricultural sector.

Maize is typically grown for local markets; small-scale farmers typically grow various fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, guava, mangoes, lemons, green peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and eggplants.

Agricultural growth in Malawi is often limited and difficult to effectively sustain due to reoccurring droughts in the region. Nearly 80% of Malawians are smallholder farmers who rely on their crops to feed their families and communities.

Malawi experiences extreme weather conditions — periods of drought and flooding — that contribute to widespread famine and destroyed infrastructure.

USAID reports that they are currently developing the National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan that is closely related to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) plan, and the Agriculture Sector-Wide Approach to promote agriculture and address food insecurity at the national and local levels to reduce poverty in Malawi.

Feed the Future, USAID reports, is working closely with the Malawian government to devise policies to promote agricultural sustainability, improve access to food and invest in crops such as legumes and dairy that would expand domestic and export markets for Malawi to help their economy prosper.

Through the Feed the Future initiative, USAID helped trained farmers on better farming techniques to increase productivity and provided financial and marketing services to farmers as well. USAID reported that they are committed to promoting private sector development by strengthening government institutional capacity that will accelerate long-lasting agricultural sustainability.

Since the beginning of the initiative, milk productivity has substantially increased by 52%. USAID has also succeeded in organized 23,000 Malawians from rural villages into savings-and-loans groups. Adding to that success, USAID trained 60,000 farmers on new agricultural technologies and techniques that would improve irrigation and crop harvesting.

The Feed the Future initiative aims to improve the vulnerability of rural smallholder farmers to help them escape poverty and hunger. Also, they plan to impact the lives of 293,000 children in helping to provide better nutrition to reverse growth stunting and prevent infant mortality.

Economic issues and food shortage issues have historically affected the poverty in Malawi; however, the successful partnership between the Feed the Future initiative and the Malawian government continues to improve agricultural techniques, farming technologies and promote food security for impoverished communities.

Haylee Gardner
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Malawi
According to Girls Not Brides, Malawi has the highest rate of child marriages worldwide, with roughly one in two girls getting married by the age of 18. In rural areas stricken with poverty, parents choose husbands for young girls to improve their financial status. Families sometimes give their daughters in marriage in an exchange called kupimbira in order to repay their debts.

Theresa Kachindamoto, chief of a Malawian district of 900,000 people, is taking a stand to eradicate child marriage in Malawi. She has prevented more than 850 marriages and enlisted 50 sub-chiefs to enforce the ban in her district. “Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated,” Kachindamoto said. “I tell them: if you educate your girls you will have everything in the future.”

Tamara Mhango of Girls Not Brides spoke about Kachindamoto’s mission. “She goes around her community even through the different platforms to raise awareness on the importance of girl education and also directly supports and sponsors girls who are vulnerable to stay in school, thereby delaying marriages,” Mhango said.

Between 2010 and 2013, 27,612 girls in primary schools and 4,053 girls in secondary schools in Malawi dropped out because of forced marriage. In addition to this, 14,051 primary school students and 5,597 secondary school students dropped out after becoming pregnant.

According to a Human Rights Watch report titled, “‘I’ve Never Experienced Happiness’: Child Marriage in Malawi,” marriage interrupts girls’ education and dreams. Many of Malawi’s child brides reported that they weren’t able to return to school because they couldn’t afford school fees, child care services, school programs or adult classes. Household chores also contended for their time.

The report found that child marriage in Malawi often forced girls into relationships wrought with sexual and domestic abuse and gender-based violence. Some girls said their families used manipulative tactics to coerce them into forced marriage, threatening and verbally abusing them or throwing them out on the street if they refused to comply.

“The lack of dissemination and popularization of policies and laws that protect girls [in] the communities is one of the challenges faced in the efforts to eradicate the practice,” Mhango told The Borgen Project. “Inconsistencies in the new marriage law and the constitution [regarding] the legal age of marriage is one deterrent factor.”

According to health workers in Malawi, problems related to reproductive health and pregnancy, such as maternal death, obstetric fistula, premature delivery and anemia, occur most frequently among young girls. Malawi’s maternal mortality rate has reached 675 deaths per 100,000 live births. Malawian health workers suggested that early pregnancy complications could be avoided with better funding.

“If allowed to stay in school, properly supported through their education, and make sure that policies are in place, enforced and implemented to protect the girls at all levels, then we would prevent child marriages,” Mhango said.

Rachel Williams

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Malawi
Poverty in Malawi has been at critical levels for decades. Of the 15.9 million Malawians, about 12 million are living below the international poverty line ($1.25 a day) and approximately 14.3 million are living on less than $2.00 a day, according to the Rural Poverty Portal.

Many Malawians work in agriculture, and it is hard for them to produce enough crops to maintain an income above the international poverty line. With parental death, disease and crop failure, the obstacles that many Malawians face are abounding. Discussed below are the leading facts that thoroughly explain and illuminate the pressing issue of poverty in Malawi.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Malawi


  1. Over 90,000 Malawi individuals live with HIV/AIDS, which accounts for every one in ten adults.
  2. Only 65.8 percent of Malawi’s population can read and write by the age of 15, according to the CIA.
  3. Due to poverty, poor access to health care, disease and food shortage, the average life expectancy for a Malawian is 63 years, which is 25 years more than it was in 1960, according to The World Bank.
  4. There is only one doctor for every 50,000 individuals, according to the World Health Organization.
  5. Malawi’s economy is mainly agricultural, constituting 80% of the population living in rural areas.
  6. The median age for Malawians is 16.4 years old.
  7. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is working in harmony with Malawi’s government to promote agricultural growth in rural areas. This is an effort to reduce poverty throughout Malawi.
  8. About 30% of children in Malawi do not start primary school (which is free in Malawi). Secondary and higher education is mostly attended by those of households above the international poverty line, predominantly due to the enrollment fees.
  9. Malawi is one of the world’s most impoverished countries, ranking 173rd out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index.
  10. More than 1 million Malawi children are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.

The people of Malawi face great hardships; however, with the help of NGOs like IFAD, there is hope for an increased economy and better school systems. This in turn will lead to a decrease in disease, orphaned children and overall poverty in Malawi.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr