The Extent And Impact Of Poverty In Malawi

Poverty is food insecurity, loss of shelter, being sick and not having access to a doctor or an education, being unemployed, drinking unsafe water and living with uncertainty. In Malawi, one in four people is living in extreme poverty and beneath the income poverty line of $1.90 per day. The extent and impact to which this has affected the people of Malawi will be showcased in the following report.

The Southern African country of Malawi is one of the least developed and most distressed countries on earth. Within Malawi borders, 53 percent of its total 15 million people currently live below the poverty line and a quarter of those are trapped within extreme poverty. This is a result of more than 85 percent of its inhabitants living in rural or remote areas. Due to this, the people of Malawi struggle with access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare. In recent years, Malawi has been unable to deal with their countries' drastic water shortages causing 1 in 3 people (5.6 million) to not be able to access clean water. This has left more than 4 million people lacking access to safe drinking water. According to the wellbeing indicator, Inclusive Wealth Index, Malawi has a low rating at adopting new technology and resources to help with their growth as a country. This affects the supply of clean water as they are lacking the technology to build water points, eventually increasing their access to clean water. Without the proper storage of drinking water, this can lead to water-borne illnesses such as cholera. Sanitation such as decent toilets enables people to remain healthy and ensures the hygiene of individuals is kept to a high standard. However, 10 million people, more than half the total population, still live without a decent toilet. Poor sanitation facilities within Malawi can lead to illness’ and disease, causing people to pass away at an earlier age in life, leaving the life expectancy rate low. Malawi’s poor healthcare system puts its inhabitants at a high risk of disease. The under 5 mortality rate is 68 per 1000 live births, which is one of the highest for any country in Africa. According to the wellbeing indicator, Human Development Index, Table A, shows the changes in life expectancy from 1990 to 2017, increasing by 17.1 years. This has improved over time, however, Malawi’s life expectancy is ranked 121 out of 140 countries in the world. Ultimately, sanitation, water, and healthcare all affect the wellbeing of individuals impacted by poverty in Malawi.

The effects of poverty on Malawi, have caused countless obstacles in response to human wellbeing. Due to the extreme poverty, Malawians have been exposed to various health issues, including; HIV/AIDS, diarrhoea, cholera and malaria. From the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, more than one million adults, in Malawi have been troubled by the disease, as shown in Table B of the number of people living with HIV, this is almost 10 percent of the adult population. The effects of poor health, caused by poverty has meant that adults who die from these diseases, with children, put their child in a position of vulnerability as other family members are needed, otherwise the children will become orphans, in need of a carer. As of 2017, nearly one million Orphans and Vulnerable Children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. The caregivers are forced into the role of parents and commonly find themselves to be unable to adequately feed themselves and the children, as they are now the primary income earner in their household. Moreover, poverty has caused children to struggle with the absence of educational desires. Through living in hardship, for young children, specifically girls, it is expected that they should sacrifice their learning, in exchange for their family's nutrition and clean water needs. Although a proportion of children do receive educational completion in Malawi, as between 2004 to 2013, the number of households in poverty, with school-aged children attending school has risen, reaching 63 percent in 2013. However, because of their parent's eagerness to escape poverty, they encounter the neglecting treatment at a young age, reshaping their wellbeing as they grow. Not only this, but underprivileged children are not taught or encouraged of the countless career paths within and outside of their communities, rejecting less wealthy people to aim higher. This will trap them in long-lasting poverty, as they will never receive a proper education, affecting them from obtaining a healthy income for their wellbeing and future. Furthermore, the impact of poverty on Malawi is that due to the extreme natural disasters Malawi encounters, such as droughts, flooding, and severe storms, Malawians have phases of food insecurity, whereby farmers receive a low income, increasing their likelihood in poverty. It is proposed that poverty in Malawi has not changed between 2010 and 2016 (70.9 percent to 69.6 percent), however, considering expecting weather shocks, the poverty rate is presumed to increase due to the result of recent floods and droughts. This will influence farmers and rain-fed agriculture as they will lack the resources to grow more produce, which is how they earn their income.

Action on Poverty is a non-government international development organisation “that empowers marginalised communities across Africa to break the cycle of entrenched poverty.” In Malawi, Action on Poverty encourages families to refine their nutrition and income, by helping villages in poverty, who have no access to clean water and lessens the occurrence of diseases for those in poverty. Due to Malawi’s vulnerability to droughts, this organisation has improved farmers’ livelihood as they help with growing climate and disease-resistant potatoes and creating ‘victory’ gardens that produce vegetables for families to consume and trade. Through Action on Poverty’s Diversify Project, they have helped Kenneth, who lives with his wife and children in Chiradzulu, Malawi, to develop their food security. The Diversify Project educates farmers, like Kenneth, to grow potatoes, producing profits for them in food and nutrition security, and income. This organisation also allows impoverished people to strive higher in life, for instance, Kenneth’s goal is to collect enough money to pay for his son’s school fees. With the help of Action on Poverty, Kenneth believes if you have a vision, you can fulfill it. Moreover, the non-government organisation also helps villages to have access to clean water, by establishing new water points, update old and damaged water points, lead local water point representatives in how to manage their water system, control hygiene and sanitation training, install chlorine dispensers to sustain water quality, and test and monitor water quality to secure it is safe for drinking. Through building water points, Action on Poverty is ensuring communities can reach clean water, which benefits in preventing diseases and decreases the workload of women and girls in reclaiming water. Overall, Action on Poverty helps communities in Malawi to improve their poverty cruelty as it promotes their wellbeing.

Thus, the extent and impact of poverty in Malawi have been sponsored by Action on Poverty, as they aid with obstacles associating with access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare. Along with reducing the impact of poor health issues, lack of education and minimal water. On the whole, Malawi has improved in its movement to overcome poverty and are on the best path to a more excellent country, in the future. 

16 August 2021
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