Landscape in Central Malawi

Malawi A small country facing big challenges

Malawi is seen as a peaceful country that is largely stable politically. However, the challenges for this landlocked country in south-east Africa are huge. They include a high rate of poverty, widespread malnutrition, low levels of education, poor health services and high population growth.

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

Malawi’s economic progress is very dependent on external factors like the weather and price developments on global markets. The government is willing to pursue reforms and advance Malawi’s development, but it is not able to satisfy people’s basic needs and achieve tangible improvements in their living conditions due to insufficient public revenues, inefficient administrative structures and a lack of qualified personnel in the public sector.

Malawi is currently experiencing what is probably its biggest economic crisis since gaining independence in 1964. The country is highly indebted and because of a lack of foreign currency it is no longer even able to import enough vital goods like fuel or medicines. The agricultural sector lacks seeds and fertiliser. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), more than a quarter of the population is affected by chronic food insecurity.

Devastation caused by cyclone Freddy

In mid-March 2023, the country was hit by the unusually long-lasting cyclone Freddy. More than half a million people have been affected by the impacts of this tropical storm, with the German NGO Welthungerhilfe saying that it has reversed years of development progress. Since many fields were destroyed, aid organisations are warning that a famine may be on the way. In addition, since early 2022, Malawi has been hit by the worst outbreak of cholera on record. Experts fear that the number of infections is going to rise much further because of the flooding.

Malawi counts as a least developed country (LDC). On the current United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), Malawi is ranked 169th out of 191 states.

German development cooperation with Malawi

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

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is assisting the Malawian government in implementing its development strategies. The topmost goals of development cooperation are reducing poverty and increasing resilience towards negative impacts like climate change, epidemics and economic shocks.

In 2021, the German government made a new development cooperation commitment of 64.2 million euros to Malawi for a two-year period. In addition, Malawi is receiving funding of up to 24.4 million euros via the Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”.

Cooperation with Malawi focuses on the following core areas.

  • Peaceful and inclusive societies | Area of intervention: Good governance
  • Transformation of agricultural and food systems | Area of intervention: Food security
  • Sustainable economic development, training and employment | Area of intervention: Private sector and financial sector development
  • Health, social protection and population policy | Areas of intervention: Population policy; sexual and reproductive health and rights; social protection

Projects in the former priority area of basic education are currently being concluded. Under the framework of the German BACKUP Initiative – Education in Africa (External link), the BMZ is supporting Malawi in implementing digital solutions to expand and improve education and thereby also mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector.

In addition, Malawi is benefiting from other supranational projects in areas such as renewable energy, nature conservation/biodiversity, microfinance and vocational training.

Street scene in Malawi

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” Promoting good financial governance Internal link

Good financial governance is a prerequisite for successfully reducing poverty, for economic growth and for sustainable development. The BMZ is supporting the Malawian government with regard to reforming financial management, strengthening supervisory mechanisms and putting public funds to better use with a view to reducing poverty.

A woman farmer in Malawi in front of a solar system that provides electricity for the pump of a drip irrigation system

Core area “Transformation of agricultural and food systems” Preventing malnutrition Internal link

Under the framework of the Special Initiative “Transformation of agricultural and food systems”, the BMZ is helping to improve the food situation in Malawi. The focus is on providing food for pregnant women, mothers and small children.

A female farmer training with a hand tractor: At the Malawi University of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, farmers can rent tractors for days at low prices.

Core area “Sustainable economic development, training and employment” Creating jobs and incomes Internal link

In Malawi, most people live on the agricultural produce that they grow themselves. Germany is supporting its partner country Malawi in promoting the economic development of rural areas, increasing productivity and value creation in the agricultural sector, and exporting more agricultural produce.

A mother has her child examined by a doctor

Core area “Health, social protection and population policy” Health care and social protection for all Internal link

In recent years, Malawi has succeeded in reducing its child and maternal mortality rates and the incidence of HIV infections. However, there are still serious deficits in the country’s healthcare system. The BMZ wants to support Malawi in its efforts to set up a country-wide healthcare system which provides good and affordable health services, in particular for mothers and for newborn babies.

Current situation

Parliament building in Lilongwe, Malawi
In the south of Malawi, small sums are paid out to extremely poor people as part of a social cash transfer programme.
Tobacco plantation in Malawi

As at: 25/07/2023