Landscape in Central Malawi

Malawi A small country facing big challenges

Malawi is a land-locked country in Southeast Africa. Compared with some of its regional neighbours, it is a stable, safe and peaceful country. However, this stability is in danger of crumbling away, for the government is unable to satisfy the basic needs of the people of Malawi.

This is because the state lacks the money, efficient administrative structures and qualified staff needed to do so. Whilst the government is willing to pursue reforms and advance the country's development, efforts so far have failed to bring about tangible improvements to people's living conditions. Malawi is one of the world's least developed countries (LDCs).

Development cooperation

The primary goal of the development cooperation between Germany and Malawi is to fight poverty and foster sustainable development in Malawi. Cooperation focuses on improving basic education and health and fostering private sector development in rural communities. Thus the aim of development interventions is to directly improve the lives of Malawi's people. There are also interventions designed to enhance the state's capacities and strengthen its resilience.

Parliament building in Lilongwe, Malawi

Reforms still too tenuous Internal link

Following thirty years of dictatorship, Malawi has succeeded since 1994 in steering a course of peaceful transition to a multi-party democracy. Initially, the country managed to make considerable development progress. In late 2010, however, while under the increasingly autocratic leadership of President Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi slipped into a severe crisis.

In the south of Malawi, small sums are paid out to extremely poor people as part of a social cash transfer programme.

Hunger and poverty a feature of many people's lives Internal link

Large sections of the population live in poverty. The average annual per capita income has fallen in recent years – from the equivalent of 470 US dollars in 2011 to 320 US dollars by 2016 (compared with 43,940 US dollars in Germany in 2016).

Tobacco plantation in Malawi

Heavy dependence on the weather and world markets Internal link

Malawi is an agricultural nation. Formally, agriculture accounts for only around 28 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. However, since most small farmers only produce enough for their own consumption, actual economic output in the agricultural sector is likely to be much higher.

Elephants in Liwonde National Park, Malawi

The threat posed by climate change Internal link

The high rate of population growth means that Malawi faces great problems in terms of food supplies and the provision of social services for its people. Not only that, but the impact it is having on the environment is also cause for concern. For instance, because the growing population is using ever greater amounts of firewood, Malawi has become widely deforested.

German development cooperation with Malawi

Bärbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

The primary goal of development cooperation with Malawi is poverty reduction. Germany's current activities are focused on supporting the Malawian government's growth and development strategy MGDS III and on implementing programmes that will have a direct benefit for the people of Malawi.

At government negotiations in October 2019, the German government newly pledged 45.3 million euros to Malawi for development cooperation. As interim pledges had already been made previously, including for reconstruction after Cyclone Idai, the total amount of German support for 2018 and 2019 is 91.3 million euros.

In addition, Malawi will receive funds of up to 43.6 million euros for the two-year period through the Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”. They are intended to support agricultural innovations and improve food security.

The two sides agreed on the following priority areas of cooperation:

  • Primary education
  • Health (including social protection)
  • Private sector development in rural areas

In addition, Germany is supporting the efforts of the Malawian government to improve public financial management. The aim of this support is to improve accountability and transparency, to increase the state’s own revenues and to ensure that financial resources are used efficiently.

School class in Malawi

A focus on teacher training and equipping schools Internal link

The government of Malawi abolished school fees for primary education in 1994. Since then the number of children attending school has undergone a marked increase – nearly all children are now being enrolled in school. However, the quality of teaching has deteriorated.

A mother has come to the doctor with her baby, who is now examining the child.

Health care and social protection for all Internal link

In recent years, Malawi has succeeded in reducing the mortality rate amongst mothers and children, the high birth rate and the incidence of HIV infections. Despite this progress, however, the country's health services continue to exhibit major shortcomings.

Groundnut farmer in Malawi

Creating jobs and incomes Internal link

Private sector development in rural regions has been a priority area of development cooperation between Germany and Malawi since 2014. The aim is to create employment and income opportunities in rural areas, and to improve people's nutrition. The measures are designed so that they support women and young adults in particular.