2015 in Review

As we celebrate this year’s end, and look forward to 2016, we’d like to share the most recent information about the United States Government’s support for Malawi’s development in 2015.

Our assistance has nearly tripled in the past seven years: growing from $110 million in 2008 to $305 million in 2015.  Of this, $192 million (63%) was dedicated to the health sector; $59 million (19%) to economic growth and agriculture; $14 million (5%) to the education sector, and $28 million (9%) for humanitarian assistance.  Smaller portions support work in governance and the security sector.

In the health sector, U.S. assistance supported Malawian efforts to ensure that over half a million people with HIV infection received anti-retroviral therapy and nearly two million people received HIV counseling and testing.  We helped distribute over 4.5 million malaria treatments; 2.3 million long lasting insecticide treated nets; and 11 million rapid diagnostic malaria test kits.  To support safe and successful births, 263,797 women received treatment as part of active management of third stage of labor to help reduce post-partum hemorrhage, a major killer of women in delivery.

The United States has also invested heavily in Malawi’s economy, focusing particularly on agriculture and electrification.  Efforts under our Feed the Future initiative improved agricultural practices on over 47,500 hectares.  Nutrition and agriculture interventions benefitted over 500,000 rural households, improving overall food security in Malawi, and reduced stunting from 42% to 37% in target areas.   U.S.-supported programs trained over 190,000 farmers in agriculture skills, technologies, and practices to improve productivity; and leveraged about $3.2 million in new private sector investment in the agriculture sector.  Over $27 million in food aid is currently supporting households identified by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) as needing food assistance while other resources are aimed at building resilience among chronically food insecure communities to mitigate fluctuations in food availability.  This support is in addition to the over $6.8 million provided in January to provide food assistance and agriculture, shelter, and water and sanitation supplies to flood-affected communities.

In the second year of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact funded by the U.S. Government, MCA Malawi awarded five major works contracts totaling over $157 million for the construction of new transmission lines, new substations, and the rehabilitation of the Nkula A Hydropower Plant.

The United States shares the Malawian government’s belief that education is the key to the country’s development.  We have supported the training of more than 21,000 Standard 1-3 teachers in new early grade reading techniques.  These teachers will help over 900,000 Malawian students learn to read.  In the 16 districts where we have focused education interventions, Standard 3 students increased their reading average from 13.6 to 25.8 words per minute.  Over 4.1 million text books and teaching manuals have been distributed to schools.  Our 37 Peace Corps education volunteers reach 70 Community Day Secondary School teachers with training and 4,100 community secondary day school students by teaching math, science, and English.

U.S. exchange programs continue to provide a wide range of training opportunities to the next generation of Malawi’s leaders, teachers, and public servants.  This year, over 90 Malawians have received U.S. government funding to pursue post-graduate degrees in the United States in the fields of health, agriculture, and education. We are currently supporting 33 students in higher degree programs – seven for PhD’s.  The Embassy also helps link 20-30 Malawians with full private sector scholarships for undergraduate study in the U.S. annually.  The U.S. Government supports 15 American academics teaching in Malawian universities and dozens of impressive young Malawians participating in focused short-term programs such as the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  Professional exchange programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program, Cochran Fellowship, and Borlaug Fellowship send up to ten mid-career professionals to the U.S. for three week programs in their field, allowing Malawians to meet international colleagues and share best practices in their fields of expertise.

The United States appreciates Malawi’s strong partnership in security and regional stability.  In 2015, U.S. military trainers again trained two battalions of Malawi Defense Forces (MDF) peacekeepers and continued support to the first-of-its-kind training course in Africa for senior non-commissioned officers at MAFCO.   The Sargants Majors course has already garnered a great deal of international interest and will be a model for other countries in Africa.   The United States also provided training for dozens of military and law enforcement personnel from the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and other institutions in essential skills such as anti-corruption investigative techniques, crime scene investigations, and leadership skills.

The Embassy has supported the Government of Malawi’s goals of stimulating more trade and investment and private sector growth by providing technical assistance to regional trade facilitation efforts, hosting a Millennium Challenge Corporation trade and investment delegation of ten U.S. companies to Malawi and bringing the Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to participate in Malawi’s first Investment and Trade Conference.  We hope some deals with American companies who are waiting to contribute to Malawi’s economic development will be concluded in 2016.

There’s been a lot of misinformation about how this assistance is tied to a specific policy or political party.  It isn’t.  Lessons from assistance programs across the world have taught us that where governments are democratically elected, accountable to their citizens and respect the human rights of all their people, our aid achieves the best results.  We believe that in peaceful Malawi, with its free and active press and four democratic elections, this assistance produces real and much needed development gains.  If Public Sector Reform and Public Financial Management Reform are fully implemented, if those who have improperly used funds or commodities meant for the public good are held accountable, and laws are implemented to protect even the most vulnerable from discrimination or exploitation, those development gains will be accelerated and Malawi will be an even more robust  and prosperous land.  We are very proud of the strong and productive United States–Malawi partnership and look forward to further enhancing our relationship in 2016 and well beyond.  Happy New Year!