Reflecting on Malawi’s persistent poverty

Reflecting on Malawi’s persistent poverty

Post was last updated: January 21, 2021

Malawi ranks as the sixth poorest country in the world with gross national income per capita of $1,180. In Africa, Malawi ranks seventh with the gross domestic product (GDP) of $1,172 per capita, according to USA Today.

The outlet adds that Malawi is amongst 10 poorest countries in Africa in terms of GDP. Others are Somalia ($500), Central African Republic ($681), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($785), Burundi ($808), Liberia ($867), Niger ($1,153), Mozambique ($1,266), Eritrea ($1,434) and South Sudan ($1,503).

Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) Executive Director James Ngahy is baffled with the revelations. He is confident that corruption is the cause.

Ngahy made the sentiments last week at the launch of a new project CfSC has initiated with funding from German International Cooperation.

The goal of the project, which is titled ‘Strengthening the Capacity of Citizens to Demand Transparency and Accountability in Public Finance Management for Reduced Poverty and inequality’, is to improve public finance management for reduced inequality and poverty.

Ngahy wondered why it should be difficult for the government to execute projects that could fast-track the achievement of development given the peace the country enjoys.

“Why should the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ be embraced in the group of 10 poorest countries when the country has never gone to war? What is wrong? This is an indication that most, if not all sectors of the economy, suffer from widespread corruption or mismanagement of resources,” he said.

According to the 2019 Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International, Malawi is the 123rd least corrupt nation out of 180 countries.

Ngahy emphasised that corruption erodes citizens’ trust in the public sector since it drains taxes or rates that have been earmarked for strategic community projects – meaning that citizens have to put up with poor quality services or infrastructure or miss out altogether.

In its July 2017 country report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that, while not strictly a fragile state, Malawi displays many of the characteristics of fragile and conflict affected countries, particularly in terms of the way that its governance institutions function.

“The economy is dominated by the agricultural sector, which accounts for about a third of GDP and drives livelihoods for two thirds of the population.

“Over past decades, the country’s development progress has been negatively affected by shocks leaving the country in a cycle of vulnerability. Both climate-related external shocks and domestic political and governance shocks, have collectively contributed to economic stagnation and a low pace of poverty reduction,” IMF said.

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