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Report exposes poverty in Malawi

COMMON SIGHT— Houses in poor state

Saulos Chilima

By Deogratias Mmana:

The government Wednesday launched the 2020 Malawi Poverty Report, which has revealed that over half of the population Malawi lives in poverty.

The report also shows that the poverty line in Malawi was estimated at K165,869 per year while the ultra-poverty line was estimated at K101,293 per year in 2020.

The report has also exposed extreme poverty in the Central Region.

Produced by the National Statistical Office (NSO), the report shows that, in 2016- 17, the national proportion of the population that was poor declined from 51.5 percent to 50.7 percent in 2019-2020.

“This means that slightly over half of the population in Malawi lived in poverty,” reads the report, adding that more people in rural areas were poorer than those in urban areas in 2019-20.

According to the report, in 2020, the Central Region had the highest proportion of people that were poor, followed by the Southern Region and the Northern Region, in that order.

The report also says the Central Region had the highest ultra-poverty rate in 2019-20 at 25.4 percent, followed by the Southern Region at 19.1 percent and the Northern Region at 8.6 percent.

“Analysis by district shows that Mchinji registered the highest ultra-poverty rate in 2019-2020 at 33.7 percent followed by Lilongwe Rural at 32.8 percent and Salima at 31.8 percent,” the report reads.

In terms of income inequality between the poor and the rich, the report says, at national level, the poor population had a consumption of 17.0 percent below the poverty line in 2019-20 when poverty was deeper in rural areas.

The Central Region is also exposed as where poverty was deeper as compared to southern and northern regions.

“The severity of poverty was higher in the Central Region at 9.4 percent compared to 7.0 percent in the Southern Region and 3.4 percent in the Northern Region,” the report says.

In terms of ultra-poverty gap and squared poverty gap indices, the Central Region is topping the list, meaning that ultra-poverty was highest.

The Central Region has also performed badly in terms of annual per capita consumption.

The report shows that the mean annual capita consumption for the Northern Region was higher at K269,983 compared to the Southern Region at K219,106 and K201,719 for the Central Region.

Launching the report, Vice President Saulos Chilima said the document was not glorifying poverty but was a launch pad for the many development programmes that the Tonse Alliance-led administration had lined up.

“The report is important because, to some extent, it provides us with recommendations for a complementary two-track approach,” Chilima said.

He admitted that poverty levels and inequality were high in the country, saying the government would move away from focusing on poverty reduction to wealth creation.

Further, he said, the government should transform structures of the economy from predominantly importing to an industrialised and exporting economy.

NSO Commissioner of Statistics Mercy Kanyuka commended the government and the World Bank for the support that enabled the survey.

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