By Deogratias Mmana:
The United States (US) and Malawi Tuesday signed a $1.2 billion [K1 trillion] five-year bilateral Development Objective Agreement Grant (DOAG) to support the country’s 2063 vision and advance the goal of a self-reliant Malawi that is gender equitable and democratically accountable.
Outgoing US Ambassador to Malawi Robert Scott said at the signing ceremony, which took place at his residence in Lilongwe, that more than $200 million would be channeled, through United States Agency for International Development (USaid), to development projects annually.
The grant, which is about half of Malawi’s 2021-22 K1.996 trillion national budget, will run from 2021 to 2025.
“Our signing today marks an extraordinary sign of the mutual commitment of the US and Malawian governments to advance shared development objectives that benefit the Malawian people,” Scott said.
“Our commitment means that more adolescent girls will be able to go to secondary schools in their communities. It means that more citizens will have the information and access they need to demand better services from their local governments. It means that farmers with profitable, resilient livelihoods can better address climate stresses. And it means that healthcare workers are better equipped to meet the next pandemic when it comes,” Scott added.
The US engaged with its key government partners before the agreement was reached. These included the National Planning Council, the National Aids Commission and ministries of Health; Education; Forestry and Natural Resources; Agriculture and Food Security; Tourism and Wildlife; Gender and Social Welfare; Finance; and Local Government.
“Through their robust consultations, USaid and the Government of Malawi agreed to heighten their coordination on a range of developing projects. These projects will empower Malawian youths to lead healthy, informed and productive lives; strengthen the public sector’s accountability and effectiveness and accelerate and sustain inclusive development for the country,” Scott said.
Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said, through the funds, the US would help Malawi build more community day secondary schools and manage natural resources and projects under health better.
“You have supported us during some of the difficult times in our history as a country. We have known, and we know, the US as a very generous people and we are most grateful for that,” Mlusu said.
Mlusu said the grant would help Malawi translate some of its plans under Malawi 2063 into tangible results.
“We, as a government, have an idea of where we want to take this country in terms of development. These ideas are clearly outlined in Malawi 2063 and other policy documents which we have prepared. However, these nicely prepared plans remain unimplemented and are just filed away as we wait for funds,” he said.
He said the grant would enhance the capacity of the public sector to provide public services such as health and education.
The agreement comes after another grant was signed for projects under the US Compact through which the US government invested millions of dollars in the power sector.
“As we speak, our teams are developing a second compact which will focus on land, transport and growth accelerators,” Mlusu said.