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

Social situation Hunger and poverty a feature of many people's lives

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 360 US dollars by 2018 (compared with 47,090 US dollars in Germany in 2018).

On the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), Malawi is ranked 172nd out of 189 states. Around 70 per cent of the working population is employed in agriculture. However, work in the sector is done using the most basic methods and tools, and yields are often so low that even farming families cannot subsist on them. About one quarter of the population is considered to be undernourished.

Deficits in education and health

There are huge deficiencies in health care and education in Malawi. The quality of teaching at schools is poor, and some 20 per cent of children – boys and girls – do not complete primary school. More than a third of the adult population lack even basic reading and writing skills.

Infant, child and maternal mortality rates have been reduced in recent years but still remain shockingly high compared with other countries in the region and the rest of the world. Nearly 50 per cent of Malawi’s adults between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with HIV. Malaria, tuberculosis and respiratory diseases are also widespread.

A fast-growing population

A huge strain for Malawi’s development is the rapidly expanding population (growth rate in 2018: 2.65 per cent). According to a recent United Nations estimate, the country's population is expected to increase from around 18 million, which it is now, to more than 40 million by 2050. If economic and social conditions in Malawi do not change radically, the current rate of population growth will bring with it disastrous consequences – for instance for the country's social development, environment and food security.

In a village near Bilira (Malawi) two children play with the water pump of a well.

In a village near Bilira (Malawi) two children play with the water pump of a well.

In a village near Bilira (Malawi) two children play with the water pump of a well.