Portrait of a Malawian woman holding a child in her arms. © ACDI-CIDA/David Barbour

Malawi is a small land-locked country of approximately 15 million people in Southern Africa. It is one of the world's poorest countries, and ranks 170 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 human development index. Three out of four Malawians live on less than US$1.25/day. Almost half of the population— 46 percent—is under 15 years old.

Most Malawians are subsistence farmers, with women producing 75 percent of the nation's food supply. Agricultural productivity in Malawi is low. In 2010, maternal mortality stood at 675 per 100,000 births and 47 percent of under-five children suffered from stunting.

Although the country experienced high economic growth between 2004 and 2010, it remains vulnerable to external economic shocks such as reduced global demand for its primary exports—tobacco, tea and sugar.

The country has exceeded its water and sanitation targets and has made significant strides in strengthening food security nationally. It is on track to achieving the targets for reducing infant and child mortality and combatting HIV/AIDS.

Challenges remain, however, in achieving the goals for poverty reduction, maternal health, universal primary education and gender equality. Only 55 percent of children who enter Grade 1 actually complete the full eight years of primary school. Some 22 percent of primary school-aged girls do not attend school, while 60 percent of those enrolled do not attend regularly.

Thematic Focus

Canada's international development program in Malawi is closely aligned with the goals of the Government of Malawi's Growth and Development strategy II for 2011-2016. Its main objectives are to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The goal of Canada's international development program in Malawi is to help the country secure a future for children and youth by reducing the primary school dropout rate and improving the nutritional status of young children and pregnant/nursing women.

Children and youth, including health and rights of women and children

Canada supports efforts to improve the quality of basic education to reduce dropout rates. With support from Canada to the Malawi's Ministry of Education is strengthening primary school teacher training and ensuring that new teachers have the skills to help girls stay in school. Canada is also supporting efforts to help increase the Ministry of Education's capacity to manage and monitor the national education sector plan, including strengthening government systems that handle the purchase of education materials such as textbooks.

Canada also provides support to reduce malnutrition in young children and pregnant/nursing women. Canada continues to help Malawi train health workers and educate parents and community leaders about appropriate feeding practices. Canada supports the Government of Malawi's community-based therapeutic care program, which treats acute malnutrition of children and mothers at the community level. This outreach includes support to provide locally produced ready-to-use therapeutic foods to those suffering from malnutrition.

Key anticipated results

  • About 1,000 more students per year will be enrolled in teacher training colleges
  • The ratio of qualified teachers to pupils will be improved from 1:80 to 1:60
  • Up to 10,200 community volunteers will be trained to recognize the signs of acute child malnutrition
  • The number of children screened for malnutrition at the community level will be increased from 970,000 per year to 2 million

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Malawi adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages). Donor harmonization and alignment is steadily improving. The Government of Malawi encourages all donors to work with its priorities and monitors aid flows. Program-based approaches are used in the health, HIV/AIDS, education, and water sectors.

Canada participates in the annual Joint Education Sector Review process and also participates in donor-government working groups related to education and nutrition.



Achievements 2011-2012

Children and youth

  • Improved capacity of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to better manage the student-teacher support system through a strengthened partnership between Teacher Training Colleges and Teaching Practice Schools
  • 4,600 new primary school teacher candidates are being trained under an improved teacher training curriculum and with new learning aids designed to improve the quality and gender appropriateness of classroom teaching at the primary level.
  • Contributed to the scaling up of the Government of Malawi's Community Therapeutic Care (CTC) program for malnourished children in eight districts, increasing the number of health centres offering CTC services from 85 to 104 (84 percent of health centres in those districts)
  • Procured and helped distribute 184 metric tonnes of ready-to-use therapeutic foods to treat malnourishment in children (this represents 33 percent of the national requirement)
  • Trained 5,192 health workers, volunteers and community leaders in identifying and treating acute malnutrition at the community and health centre levels

Achievements 2010-2011

Children and youth

  • Helped increase the Government of Malawi's capacity to plan, manage, procure and distribute educational materials in all primary schools
  • Distributed almost 6.5 million teaching and learning materials to more than 5,000 primary schools
  • Contributed to the scaling-up of the Government of Malawi's Community Therapeutic Care program in five districts, increasing coverage from 52 sites (42 percent) to 85 sites (69 percent)
  • Procured and helped distribute 408 metric tonnes of ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat acute malnutrition in children (this represents 63 percent of the national requirement) as well as equipment for 490 outpatient treatment sites needed to identify malnutrition earlier
  • Trained 2,983 health workers, volunteers and community leaders in identifying acute malnutrition at the community level

Achievements 2009-2010

Children and youth

  • Trained 11,000 teachers (6,000 women and 5,000 men) on the new education curriculum, resulting in an increased supply of qualified primary teachers with the capacity to apply learner-centered teaching methods that benefit both girls and boys equally
  • Distributed malnutrition screening tools and more than 130 metric tonnes of ready-to-use therapeutic foods to community care sites, improving the nutritional status of children under the age of five
  • Contributed to building the Government of Malawi's capacity to plan, manage, procure and distribute educational materials in all primary schools
  • Helped the Government of Malawi procure and distribute 12.5 million textbooks, pencils, teaching manuals and slates