Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, with 80 percent living in rural areas and three quarters of the population surviving on less than $2 per day.
Why do we work in Malawi?
80 percent of the 14.9 million Malawians live in rural areas and rely on subsistence farming. Although food shortages have decreased over the last decade, drought continues to affect 4 million people annually, including 1 million children, leading to chronic malnutrition and the increased risk of disease.
Malawi’s economy is highly reliant on agricultural exports, mainly tobacco, but low productivity, land constraints and poor transport infrastructure continue to slow its economic growth. A lack of reliable power and poor public service has also constrained the economic growth and delivery of development programs. The plight of Malawians has become more difficult recently with relations with major donors souring as the government becomes more autocratic and seeks to close down the space for civil society to express itself.
Education statistics in Malawi are worse than any other country in Southern Africa. Less than 25 percent of children remain in school up to the 8th grade, and most are forced to stay at home to work for their families. Only 2 percent of primary students have basic numeracy skills. Malawi also has one of the highest students to teacher ratios in the world at around 80:1, as well as a classroom ratio of 100:1.
Nearly 1 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS in Malawi and 550,000 children have lost one or both parents to the virus. Despite these problems, several social indicators have shown signs of improving: life expectancy has increased from under 40 years in 2000 to 55 years in 2011, while HIV/AIDS prevalence has fallen from 14 percent to 11 percent over the same period.
The wet season often brings flooding, which increases the threats of cholera and other disease outbreaks.
Our work in Malawi
Through our local partners, Caritas Australia has implemented a number of programs that cover a variety of sectors including Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, Water and Sanitation, HIV Awareness Gender concerns and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Examples of our recent work
- The aim of Caritas Australia’s Community Development Program is to increase the production of high quality crop and livestock for 525 households by June 2013. 225 families have received seeds to improve crop yields, 288 have been trained in food processing, 200 in post harvest crop handling, 246 in vertical gardening, 177 in crop handling and storage, and 8 seed banks have been constructed.
- Caritas Australia’s local partner CADECOM has drilled 27 boreholes in Mangochi, Malawi, increasing the access to clean water for these communities by 50 percent. Most local communities now only have to walk 1km to get water, as opposed to 6km previously.
- Caritas Australia has planted 840 hectares of trees to reduce erosion in Blanytre, Malawi. Ceramic and mud stoves have also been introduced into the local community to decrease their dependence on firewood.
- 200 people, including 122 women and 78 men from 20 villages in Mangochi, Malawi were trained in Disaster Risk Reduction strategies and natural resource management. Over 17,000 seedlings were also planted to reduce erosion.