USAID Malawi Sustainable Economic Growth Program Overview

Background

Agriculture, nutrition and climate-resilient growth are top development priorities for the Government of Malawi (GoM). Under the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach, the GoM is unlocking latent private sector investment and opening export markets for smallholders. USAID is collaborating with the GoM to seize these opportunities while addressing constraints to agriculture-led economic growth and the impacts of climate change.  

Smallholder farmers cultivate 90 percent of the arable land in Malawi and face many challenges such as declining soil fertility, erratic rainfall, land constraints, and poor institutional support. With limited access to credit, inputs, and price information, the typical farmer struggles to support a family of six on only one hectare of land. More than one third of Malawians consume less than the required daily calories and typically lack dietary diversity. Malnutrition particularly affects children; among those under the age of 5, 47 percent are stunted and 63 percent are anemic. Climate change threatens to exacerbate existing food security challenges and undermine hard-won development gains in other sectors. 

Program Elements

Through USAID’s flagship Feed the Future project, Integrating Nutrition in Value Chains (INVC), more than 75,000 smallholder farming households received assistance to increase agriculture productivity and incomes in 2013. As a result, smallholders’ production of soybean, groundnut, and dairy increased markedly, and communities received nutrition education encouraging the consumption of these nutritious foods. INVC expanded structured trade through the Agricultural Commodity Exchange, and the Mobile Money Accelerator activity allowed over 50,000 smallholder farmers to access seeds through electronic vouchers. USAID promotes private sector engagement in the agriculture sector through several avenues, including the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. 

In 2013, nutrition activities reached over 353,000 children under 5 years of age through interventions such as the Care Group model of community-based health care services. The Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA) program helped 215,000 households to become more resilient and food secure, resulting in a nearly twenty percent decline in the number of under-5 children with stunted growth due to malnutrition in targeted areas. 

USAID partners with the Malawian government and a wide variety of Malawian institutions to support Malawi's low-emissions, climate-resilient development. Forest conservation investments improve forest governance, generate livelihood opportunities, and support more sustainable means of producing biomass for energy. Adaptation and biodiversity investments increase social, environmental and economic resiliency to climate change within freshwater ecosystems that are not only critical to food security but globally significant for their unique and highly concentrated biodiversity.  

Key Message

Supporting sustainable livelihoods by addressing climate change, agriculture development, nutrition, and trade.

Funding (FY 2013)

$17.2 million (Feed the Future)

$10.5 million (Food for Peace)

$7.6 million (Climate Change)

TOTAL: $35.3 million

Partners

  • Development Alternatives Inc.
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • International Food Policy Research Institute
  • FHI 360
  • United States Forest Service

​Geographic Location

Country-wide

USAID Contact

John Edgar, Office Director, Sustainable Economic Growth

Email: jedgar@usaid.gov

Website: www.usaid.gov/malawi

Last updated: July 15, 2014

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