How successful has Malawi been in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger (MDG-1)?

Progress in Eradicating Poverty

Indicator 1991 1998 2005 2012 Target
People Living On < $1 / day (%) 54 53.9 52 50.7 25
Poverty Gap Ratio (%) 16 18.6 17.8 18.9   8
Poorest Quintile Participation in National Consumption 10 10.1   5.5 20

Sub-Saharan Africa lags other regions of the world in eliminating poverty. Malawi is below average for the region. Small reductions in Poverty Head Count (the proportion of people living on <$1 per day) have been concentrated in urban areas while rural areas have seen increases in this indicator. Two Southern Region districts Chikwawa and Nsanje have Poverty Head Counts in excess of 80%.

The Poverty Gap Ratio (measures the average distance separating the poor from the poverty line expressed as a percentage of the poverty line) has increased slightly during the last 25 years. Improvements in urban areas have not been significant enough to overcome increases in Poverty Gap Ratio in rural areas of all regions. The Southern Region has the highest Poverty Gap Ratio.

The participation of the country's poorest quintile in national consumption is significantly lower than at the start of the new millenium. This suggests the benefits of increasing GDP are not flowing to the poor and that inequality is rising. The situation of the rural poor is deteriorating.

Progress in Eradicating Hunger

Nationally the proportion of Children (<5 years) who are moderately or severely underweight was halved through the period 1992 to 2009. Latterly this indicator has reversed direction and is now increasing. Progress in addressing the numbers of underweight children has been greatest in urban areas and in the Central region. No progress or increasing numbers of underweight children is evident in the rural areas of the Northern and Southern Regions.

The undernourished proportion of the total population also halved through the period 1992 to 2009. Latterly minimal reductions in this indicator are observed.

Latterly (2015 - 2016) progress in eradicating hunger has been challenged partially as a result of the El Nino associated drought in Southern Africa and issues related to maize distribution within the country.

A food poverty line is used to estimate proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption. Those below this line are described as 'ultra-poor'. Nationally the proportion of 'ultra-poor' has been trending gently upwards in recent years. Again a divergence in urban:rural areas is seen with rural areas having significant increases in the numbers of 'ultra-poor'.

Will Malawi achieve Universal Primary Education (MDG-2)?

After significant advances in Primary Education Net Enrolment in the late 1990's, progress since then has been modest and may even have peaked. The 2015 data will be well short of the MDG of 100%. Net enrolment in urban areas averages 6-8% higher than that in rural areas. More girls than boys are enrolled.

The proportion of pupils starting Grade 1 who go onto complete Grade 5 also showed significant improvement through the years 1992 - 2006 but has since noticeably dropped back. The indicator measure for 2015 is projected to be 65%, short of the 100% goal.

Literacy rate of 15 - 24 year olds follows a similar trend to the previous indicator, a steady improvement though 2009 followed by a drop-off since then.The gap between urban and rural literacy rates is significant (>25%). Neither will meet the MDG of 100%.

Are women empowered and has gender equality been realized (MDG-3)?

Malawi achieved the MDG of Gender Parity in Primary School Enrolment a decade ago and indeed the indicator value has leveled off with a slight excess of girls to boys. The ratio of girls:boys in Secondary School Enrolment has improved significantly in the years since 1992 but the indicator has leveled off at ~0.91, a little short of the 1.0 goal for 2015.

Literacy Rates of 15-24 year olds is approaching Gender Parity and projected to be 0.97 by end-2015.

Women's participation in non-Agriculture Sector wage employment has more than doubled since the start of the millenium but at a projected 33% in 2015 falls short of the Indicator goal of 50%. It is average for the region.

While the number of seats in parliament held by women has increased the likely 2015 value of 16.7% falls significantly short of the MDG of 50% for this indicator. This below average for the Sub-Saharan region.

How has Malawi performed against the MDG indicators related to Child Mortality (MDG-4)?

World Bank data shows significant progress has been made relative to the MDG of a 67% reduction between 1990 and 2015 in the mortality rate of under-5 children. It is likely that the reduction will be closer to 75%. Infant mortality has also improved significantly leading to confidence that the MDG for this indicator will also be met. Contributing factors to these improvements are believed to include an expanded programme of Immunization, deworming, malaria control through the distribution of insecticide treated nets, reduction of Mother to Child Transfer of HIV, promotion of breast-feeding for the first six months of an infant's life and Vitamin A supplementation. Mortality rates remain higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Under-5 mortality rates are also worsened as a function of lower household wealth and lower levels of mother's educational attainment. Infant mortality rates are 42nd worst in world with rates noticeably higher for males than females (CIA World Factbook 2015 est)

Immunization of <12 month old children steadily improved during the post-millenium years peaking at 96% coverage in 2011. This was the year following Malawi's most recent significant measles outbreak and may reflect an increased sensitivity to the impact of that outbreak. Since then immunization rates have receded in successive years. Anecdotal evidence suggests the costs (fuel) of immunization outreach can be a challenge to CHAM (Christian Health Association of Malawi) institutions. Mortality rates of ~5% during the 2010 Measles Outbreak suggest that this isn't a trend that should be allowed to continue.

What about Maternal Mortality (MDG-5)?

The World Bank data on maternal mortality ratio are estimated with a regression model using information on the proportion of maternal deaths among non-AIDS deaths in women ages 15-49, fertility, birth attendants, and GDP. The data shows that despite noticeable improvements in maternal mortality through the year 2006 little progress has been made since then with the result that the MDG (155) for this indicator will not be met.

The number of births where a skilled birth attendant is present is increasing and the expansion in the number of Maternity Waiting Homes is likely to be beneficial. Over 94% of expectant mothers make at least 1 visit to an ante-natal clinic and this number is gradually increasing.

What progress has been made in combatting HIV & AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases (MDG-6)?

Since peaking at 17.55% in the year 2000 the HIV rate for 15 - 49 year olds has steadily improved reaching a rate of 10.25% in 2013. Due to advances in treatment those with HIV are also living longer. HIV prevalence among 15 - 24 year old expectant mothers has also more than halved (24.1% to 10.6%) in this period. In recent years Malawi has implemented a 4-prong approach towards the virtual elimination of Mother to Child Transfer of HIV and a 90% reduction in infection among young children. The approach includes the implementation of Option B+ (a lifelong committment to to providing ART to all HIV+ women regardless of clinical or immunological stage).

Malaria related activities and indicators are focused on prevention (through provision of Insecticide Treated Nets particularly for under-fives and expectant mothers) and treatment. Both areas show progress. Malaria death rate (current measure 3.3%) is projected to be 3% at end-2015 against the MDG of 2%

Year Proportion of <5 year olds sleeping under ITN (%) Proportion <5 years old with fever treated w/ anti-malarials
2000 3 27
2004 15 28
2006 25 25
2010   55.4   30.9
2012 56   32.5
2014 65 ND

Tuberculosis incidence rates show continous improvement, dropping > 40% since 2000. Treatment success rate has improved from 72% to 83% since 2000. Death rate, due to tuberculosis is 7%.

Tuberculosis case detection rate (all forms) is the number of new and relapse tuberculosis cases notified to WHO in a given year, divided by WHO's estimate of the number of incident tuberculosis cases for the same year, expressed as a percentage. Estimates for all years are recalculated as new information becomes available and techniques are refined. The indicator shows a reduction from 54% to 43% in the period 2000 - 2014.

Is Malawi on the path to Environmental Sustainability (MDG-7)?

Since 1990 Malawi has lost >18% of its forested land making it more vulnerable to climate change impact. During the same period there has been a small increase in the area of protected land. The proportion of the population with access to non-solid fuel has increased from 2% to 3.1%, far short of the MDG of 100%. Lack of progress in the latter means charcoal is the fuel of choice for many further pressurizing existing woodlands.

The proportion of the population with access to an improved water source has steadily increased with the result that the MDG for this indicator has been met. However the rural population remains disadvantaged versus the urban population.

Moderate progress has been made with respect to access to improved sanitation facilities. Most progress has been observed in rural areas but still they are disadvantaged relative to urban areas. Even in rural areas evidence of 'top-inequality' (whereby the richest quintile have significantly higher access to improved facilities) is observed.

Building a Global Partnership for Development (MDG-8)

Net Overseas Development Assistance as a proportion of real GDP peaked at 26% in 2010 before dropping in 2011 to 15% as a result of donor concern over the economic and political situation in the country. Actions undertaken by the Joyce Banda government partially reversed that drop in the following year. The emergence of the Cashgate scandal (where $M's of donor funds were pilfered) in 2013 led to a large scale retreat from direct Government funding by overseas donors.

International Labour Organization modeled estimates show youth (15 - 24) unemployment to be comparatively unchanged at 14% over the 2000 - 2014 period. Girls in this age group are more likely to be unemployed than boys. Urban unemployment is higher than rural.

The number of cellular subscribers and internet users climbed fairly consistently but to varying degrees in the 2006 to 2014 period. Both will be capped by the non-availability of electricity in much of the country. 98% of rural inhabitants have no access to electricity. Another limitation on usage is relative cost of airtime. In terms of average usage costs : average monthly earnings, Malawi at 56.3% is one of the most expensive countries in the world. By end of 2015 4% of country were Facebook users.