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Malawi’s vain promises on ending poverty

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July 6 1964 is such a long time. I mean, such a long time without tangible progress.

Despite having the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and such other development blueprints, there is little done to rid Malawi of the nuisance called poverty.

If anything, it is politicians that have been getting richer and richer at the expense of the poorest of the poor.

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That is why, Dear Pain, politicians take pride in giving the poor raw deals while they [politicians] drive in posh cars, dwell in larger-than-life houses and swim in allowances raised through taxpayers’ contributions.

We have a long way to go, in terms of meeting national development aspirations.

I am not surprised, therefore, that Malawi is said to be far from meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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The goals in question, if we have to base our thoughts on the United States Agency for International Development (USaid) fact sheet released this month, are SDG one and two.

The agency fears that missing the said targets has the potential to multivariate shocks in 28 districts of the country.

If we appraise ourselves with goal number one of the SDGs, we find that it is very important, especially to a country such as Malawi, where poverty has taken loot.

The goal in question focuses on ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal number two, on the other hand, calls on member states to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

The factsheet has been damning, with poverty levels said to have marginally increased in the past eleven-and-a-half years.

As a result, poverty levels remain high, especially among women, a development attributed to the risk and exposure to shocks. The other factors said to be behind the development include a confluence of over-dependence on rainfed maize and tobacco, poor modernization in the agriculture sector, dependence on biomass for energy culminating in deforestation and land degradation, undiversified rural economy and limited access to finance.

To make matters worse, stunting rates remain above 47 percent among poor households, with some districts said to have been backsliding on stunting rates since 2010.

Surely, this is an indication that, since 1964, Malawi has been failing to do the needful, namely integration of disaster risk management, mitigation, response, recovery and adaptation approaches.

These are worrying signs, considering, also, that another 2022 report on progress towards meeting SDGs by the United Nations Economic and Social Council indicated that between 2014 and the onset of the Covid pandemic, the number of people going hungry and suffering from food insecurity had been gradually rising.

It indicates, for instance, that coronavirus infestation has pushed those rising rates even higher, further reversing the steady progress of poverty reduction over the past 25 years.

“The war in Ukraine is further disrupting global food supply chains and creating the biggest global food crisis since World War II. The Covid crisis has also exacerbated all forms of malnutrition, particularly in children,” it reads.

It is estimated these combined crises will lead to an additional 75 million to 95 million people living in extreme poverty worldwide wide compared to pre-pandemic projections.

However, while it is true that some problems are global in nature, Malawi has to chart its own path out of trouble so that, by the time we get to the year 2063, there shall be some remarkable progress in the country.

We cannot continue to blame world events for local problems for, if the truth were to be told, the rest of the world will move on and attain goals they set while Malawi will continue to look for other excuses.

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