Malawi: Difficult Situation for Children in Malawi

20.10.2008

The situation of children and youngsters in Malawi has improved in some areas, but in others no changes have been made and therefore, Malawi needs to work even harder if the country is to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015, as is stated in two newly published reports by UNICEF, that is the Annual Report for 2007 and a situation paper regarding African children in 2008.

It is stated in the report that the life expectancy for Malawian children has increased considerably in the last 15-20 years and if this development continues it is likely that Malawi will reach the UN Millennium Development Goal regarding lowering child mortality rate by two-thirds before the year 2015. Despite these results, one of every eight children still dies before the age of five due to diseases or ailments that can easily be prevented, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and HIV-related illnesses. Prevalence of malnourishment is also great and ongoing and from 1992 there have been no improvements in the nutrition condition of children in Malawi. About half of all child deaths can be attributed to malnourishment and it brings about the fact that 46% of children under the age of five do not develop normally. Even though the spreading of HIV/AIDS among adults has not increased in Malawi in the last few years, 14% of the nation is infected with the virus, mostly women and girls or 60% of those infected.

The results also show that improvements need to be made in Malawi regarding education because even though 86% of children attend school, only 26% graduate from primary school. Children leave school for different reasons, such as poverty, distance between school and home and early pregnancies as well as poor education and study environment.

The situation of child protection is also studied because poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS and substandard social services create situations which increase the risk of abuse and violence. This applies particularly to orphans and vulnerable children and their numbers are on the rise. The Malawian government also believes that 1.4 million children work under harmful conditions.