Malawi is popularly known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ for the kindness and friendliness of its people.
It is also a country of spectacular scenery and diversity of landscapes. The lowest point in Malawi is just above sea level, but it also boasts soaring 10,000-foot peaks. And while Malawi is a landlocked country, it is also home to Lake Malawi, a huge “inland sea,” where visitors can go boating, fishing, swimming and even snorkeling in crystal clear waters. This immense body of water, which is the third largest lake in Africa, actually makes up one-fifth of Malawi.
Despite its many non-monetary “riches,” Malawi is a very impoverished country. It is, in fact, one of the poorest in the world, according to the United Nations.
A small country with some big challenges
Malawi is a small country — only about half the size of the United Kingdom — but it is densely populated, with approximately 19 million people residing within its borders. Sadly, more than 50 percent of its citizens live under the poverty line. This is partly due to the fact that this country, according to the United Nations, is prone to natural disasters, including major floods and drought. These disasters are especially problematic for Malawi since its economy is highly dependent on agriculture.
HIV/Aids is another huge problem for Malawi. According to the United Nations, 10.6 percent of this country’s population are living as HIV-positive. In addition, more than one million children have been orphaned by this disease. And like in many other developing countries, the citizens of Malawi are also susceptible to a number of other deadly diseases, including malaria and cholera. In April 2018, for instance, CNN reported a cholera outbreak that sickened hundreds and killed at least 30 people.
A government corruption scandal in 2012 also negatively affected Malawi’s economy. Because of the corruption, many donors and the World Bank stopped providing much-needed financial aid to the country. Fortunately, Malawi was able to make necessary reforms, and so the World Bank resumed budget support for Malawi in 2017.
A work in progress
Like many other countries in Africa, Malawi is looking to the tourism industry as an additional source of income. To that end, Malawi — which is bordered by two of Africa’s best-known safari destinations, Tanzania and Zambia — has been working to restore its game reserves to their former glory. Because Malawi’s wildlife population had been devastated by years of poaching, the country needed to reintroduce thousands of animals, including lions and elephants, into their parks. These efforts are already paying off. For instance, Malawi was included on Lonely Planet’s “Top Destinations for 2014,” and CNN also encouraged travelers to visit this country.
Lake Malawi National Park could become another big draw for tourists. It has already been designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered of global importance for its cichlid fish, which have undergone unique evolutionary changes. UNESCO actually ranks Lake Malawi up with the Galapagos Islands in terms of its importance for the study of evolution.
But Malawi’s most important ‘resource’ is its people. The country has already earned the nickname ‘Africa for Beginners’ for its friendly and welcoming citizens and its laid back charm.
More support needed for a brighter futures
Outside support is certainly vital as Malawi continues to develop. The country has a large orphan population and a great many citizens known to be HIV positive. Because only 62 percent of Malawi’s population over the age of 15 are literate, education is another area of need for Malawi.
All We Can has recently begun working in Malawi with a number of new local organisations committed to creating a better future for the communities they work in. Find out more about this transformative work.
This Harvest, inspire your church, young people groups and school to let their light shine. Celebrate how God’s gift of light has the power to transform lives and see how communities in southern Malawi are overcoming failed harvests with the introduction of solar powered irrigation.