El Niño occurs when the Pacific Ocean warms and disrupts weather around the globe. In Malawi, where the rains were delayed in places by up to two months, the ongoing El Niño has resulted in a severe drought, and led to failed crops for many subsistence farmers. Due to its poverty levels, increasing population, and advanced environmental degradation, Malawi is especially vulnerable to climatic shocks and hard-won development gains are fragile in the face of climatic shocks such as those caused by El Niño.
Malawi has one of the lowest GDPs in the world and 37.1% of Malawian children are stunted from malnutrition. USAID believes that by integrating nutrition in value chains (INVC), it can help Malawi’s small businesses develop more effectively while also promoting nutrition throughout the country.
Climate change affects countries across the globe. However, due to high population growth, rapid deforestation, and widespread soil erosion, Malawi’s agriculturally-based economy is particularly susceptible to climate change’s negative consequences.
“I thank the experts at USAID’s Integrating Nutrition into Value Chains (INVC), whose mentorship and support has contributed to the growth of this business” – Chrissie Rice, Malawian business owner of Estrell Trading Company, one of Malawi’s most successful groundnut processing businesses.
Undernutrition is a serious health and development challenge in Malawi. According to the 2014 Multiple Indicator Survey, 37.1 percent of children aged 6-59 months are stunted. USAID’s programs focus on preventing chronic under-nutrition by providing nutrition-related assistance through various implementing partners. Both USAID and the Government of Malawi (GoM) fight stunting and other forms of malnutrition through lasting community empowerment and integration of health services.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Malawi. Provisional results from the national TB prevalence survey completed in 2014 showed a higher TB prevalence of 1014/100,000 compared to the previous estimated prevalence of 373/100,000 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Malawi has a young population: 66 percent of its 17 million people are under age 25; 53 percent are 18 and younger*. 16.7 percent of children under 18 are Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).
Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios globally, currently estimated at 5.7 maternal deaths per 1,000 live births. Adolescent pregnancies comprise 25 percent of all births and 20 percent of maternal deaths. Neonatal mortality, often caused by birth asphyxia, premature birth, and infection, is estimated at 29 per 1,000 live births, while under-five mortality, mostly caused by malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia, is estimated at 84 per 1000 live births.
Although national HIV prevalence decreased from 12 percent in 2004 to 10.6 percent in 2010, Malawi continues to face a severe epidemic. There are an estimated 1.1 million Malawians living with HIV and over 771,000 orphaned children, many due to AIDS.
USAID collaborates with development partners and civil society to address rapid population growth, which remains a significant development challenge in Malawi. In fact, the population is expected to nearly triple by 2040 which will further stress the country’s overwhelming issue of food insecurity.
Last updated: February 23, 2017