Malawi is located in southern/eastern Africa, landlocked between Mozambique (east and south), Zambia (west) and Tanzania (north). The official language, English, is used within, business and legal communities but the national language, Chichewa, is more widely spoken among rural communities. Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries, ranking 173rd out of 188 countries in the 2015 UN Human Development Index. Malawi is also one of the poorest countries in the world with over 70% of the population of 18 million (World Bank, 2016) living below the poverty line of $1.25 a day. 84% of Malawians live in rural areas (World Bank, 2016) often relying on subsistence farming and piece work to provide for their families.
The Malawi government is working hard to tackle these challenges and encouraging progress has been made over recent years. Nonetheless, poverty and inequality remain to be major issues for the people of Malawi. Poverty in rural areas in particular continues to increase. A major barrier to reducing poverty in these rural communities is the heavy reliance they have on subsistence farming. Emergencies, climate change and increases in the severity and extremity of weather are all impacting the agricultural sector in southern Africa increasing the risk of poverty and hunger among rural populations, the majority of whom are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and food security. In Malawi’s rural communities’ lack of educational and economic opportunities, entrenched views on traditional gender roles and gender inequality also contribute to growing levels of poverty among Malawi’s rural women. These challenges are only worsened by limited access to formal financial services in rural communities constraining the ability for individuals to access loans to support business creation and expansion. Time Malawi’s sustainable microfinance projects have been set up to boost economic growth, reduce poverty and improve poor people’s lives.
Despite the enormous challenges faced Malawi is a beautiful and peaceful country with a reputation for warm and friendly people, and as a safe place to travel. Volunteer for us and discover “the warm heart of Africa”.