58 years of pain


When the freedom fighters, in this case nationalists, were fighting for the freedom of this land, Malawi, they did not envision a situation where their newly birthed ‘kid’ would be stunted.

It has been stunted growth throughout, be it in the area of social or economic development.

Fifty eight years of pain.


Maybe stunted growth rates among children are just a mirror of the stunted parent that is Malawi.

Just visit Department of Nutrition – it does not matter what name they have given it now; history is history— archives at the Office of the President and Cabinet and you will discover that there has been little progress made, 58 years down the line.

The last time I checked, which is this year, it was estimated that 37 percent of children in Malawi are stunted.


To make matters worse, two out of five children in rural areas are stunted— like the land they were born in; Malawi.

As recently as 2020-21, funds allocated to ‘on-budget’ nutrition programmes declined in both nominal (21 percent) and real terms (29 percent) compared to those in the 2019- 20 National Budget, with the United Nations Children’ Emergency Fund (Unicef) indicating that allocations remain “at very low levels in relation to the total budget”.

In the 2020-21 National Budget, this meant allocations for nutrition causes were 0.03 percent of gross domestic product.

It does not make sense that, 58 years down the line, the government has been failing to ensure that strategies are put in place for the development and implementation of a comprehensive and coherent nutrition sector financing plan.

One of the problems identified by players such as Unicef is that there is poor financing of nutrition services at district level, in addition to the fact that nutrition interventions are not adequately covered in annual plans and programmes.

Instead of doing what partners have been suggesting, including that the government, through the Department of Nutrition and HIV and Aids, makes sure that nutrition interventions are mainstreamed.

This has, surely, been responsible for the stunted status of most children in this land we proudly call the Warm Heart of Africa.

But, then, children are not the only ones negatively impacted by stunting, in real terms. The whole nation has.

The Malawi that was promised— one where even the cheapest of stones would glitter— is not the one that has been delivered.

All over the place, hopes have, somewhat, reached their limit, in terms of positive thinking; such that, now, people can only hope for the worst.

Even agriculture, which has been one of the sectors we have been shining in, has not given us the rewards we expected.

That is why the third Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Biennial Review Report has shown that Malawi is off-track in attaining most of the commitments it signed in the 2013 Malabo-[Equatorial Guinea] Declaration.

Some of the commitments include ending hunger by 2025 as well as enhancing investment finance in agriculture and climate variability.

Sadly, in 2021, the country scored 3.38 points out of 10 on ending hunger, a nominal increase from 3.31 points scored in the year 2019. In 2017 the score stood at 2.09.

Malawi has also not done well in food security and nutrition, with a score of 3.37 out of 10 against a minimum benchmark of five points. Not just that, Malawi remains in the red zone on matters of food safety as it scored 1.61 points in 2019, and has now bagged 1.89 points.

It has been 58 years of pain, pain and more pain.

But, as President Lazarus Chakwera said on July 6, it is high time you, Dear Pain, left us alone.

This, Dear Pain, is time for Malawi to rise again.

Malawi can rise from the ashes of corruption and become a shining example, as far as good governance is concerned.

But this can happen if those that hold our hand stop regarding us as, as Chakwera put it, “victims”.

If that can be done and, the government lives up to its national and international commitments, Malawi can pass through the painful stage unscathed and, through infrastructure development, become one of the finest sights on the globe.

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