USAID’s contribution to Malawi’s development preceded the country’s independence. It began in 1960 via USAID’s Office of Southern Africa Regional Cooperation (OSARC) and improved English language and math instruction. From 1966-74, OSARC launched USAID’s first major project in Malawi with the construction of the Lakeshore Road.
USAID/Malawi opened in Lilongwe in 1979. Programs included agricultural development, private sector expansion, strengthening health and family planning services, improving transport infrastructure, and human resource development.
In 1987, the Economic, Technical and Related Assistance Agreement was signed between the U.S. Government and the Government of Malawi. By 1991, this agreement exceeded $54 million. Throughout much of the 90s USAID programs made major progress in advancing girls’ education and assisting smallholder farmers to grow cash crops. Malawi was known for innovative assistance programs that the host government embraced as their own. In the early 90s human rights concerns led USAID and other donors to introduce democracy programs in Malawi. In 1993, the public voted overwhelmingly for multi-party democracy, and in 1994 held its first ever multi-party elections which were declared free and fair.
In 2006, U.S. assistance to Malawi increased substantially with the introduction of Presidential Initiatives. Malawi was chosen as a focal country under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, President’s Malaria Initiative, Global Health Initiative, Global Climate Change Initiative, and Feed the Future. Support for education also continued. In 2006, total funding for USAID/Malawi was $40 million; in 2013, it had reached $198 million ($126 million for health).
From 2006-11, USAID/Malawi programs pursued four strategic objectives to increase: sustainable rural incomes; civic involvement in the rule of law; adoption of behaviors that reduce fertility and risk of HIV/AIDS and improve child health; and quality and efficiency of basic education.
In April 2012, President Mutharika died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. He was succeeded by Vice President Dr. Joyce Banda who launched economic and political reforms.
In 2013, USAID/Malawi completed a five year, $700 million Country Development Cooperation Strategy that promotes integrated development with the goal of “Malawians’ quality of life improved” and three objectives:
1. Social Development Improved
2. Sustainable Livelihoods Increased
3. Citizen Rights and Responsibilities Exercised
This new strategy furthers USAID’s commitment to development partnership with the government and people of Malawi based on true accountability and collaboration.
In 2014, Malawi held its first “tripartite” election, where citizens voted for President, Parliament, and— for the first time in ten years— Local Councilors. President Peter Mutharika was elected, promising a platform of economic and social reform.
Last updated: February 23, 2015