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reduce poverty in Malawi
In 2016, about 51 percent of Malawians lived in poverty, an improvement from 65 percent in 1997. Still, with more than 80 percent 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 improve the situation of 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 benefit those that crop-damaging floodwaters affect.

The pathways direct flooded water away from homes and crops in order to flow into rivers, ponds and artificial lakes. The plan is to use collected in the future. 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 percent 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 countries 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 in which more than 80 percent 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 Malawi
Malawi 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 percent live on less than $2 a day.

Agriculture makes up 35 percent of Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP), and nearly 85 percent 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 percent 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 percent. USAID has also successfully 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 crop 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 on 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 of 80 percent 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 percent 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 one 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