Christian Aid in Malawi - Update May 2002

Situation Report
Originally published
Malawi is one of Africa's smallest and most densely populated countries - and one of the most heavily indebted. There is an acute shortage of health and education services. An estimated 16 per cent of the population lives with HIV/AIDS, and its impact is seen in the increasing impoverishment of rural communities. The most fertile land is used for commercial crop production, so rural communities struggle to grow their own crops on poor soil.
Following the dispute over the Malawi general elections in 1999, the courts ruled in favour of President Bakili Muluzi's United Democratic Front, but allegations are still being made of mismanagement of the economy.

Christian Aid supports ten organisations in Malawi, where churches and church-related organisations provide nearly 35 per cent of health and education services. It also supports local organisations to develop sustainable agricultural projects.

Programme news

On 27 February the government of Malawi declared a state of national emergency in response to the worst food shortage in 50 years - a result of poor harvests, droughts and floods. Church bodies and civil society groups also blame government mismanagement of the national grain reserve and lack of planning. Christian Aid has already committed more than £250,000 to support Churches Action for Relief and Development (CARD), the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in Livingstonia, and the Likulezi Project in Phalombe to provide emergency food rations to the most severely affected communities. Partners are now awaiting the harvest to plan medium- to long-term support.

Christian Aid is researching claims by the World Bank and others that they are actively encouraging participation by civil society groups in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Process (PRSP). Phase One of the project will be the collection of case studies, which Christian Aid will use to develop recommendations to the British government and the World Bank. Phase Two will look at ways of strengthening the people in poor communities to influence public policy making, using the PRSP.