ICEIDA has a well-established relationship in development co-operation with Malawi dating back to 1989. It has been focused on Health, Fisheries and Education sectors.
From ICEIDA´s Annual Report 2009:
IntroductionIn May 2009, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Malawi. President Bingu Mutharika was re-elected by a wide margin and his splinter party from the former ruling party achieved an absolute parliamentary majority. The elections were peaceful and well-conducted and ICEIDA staff members were amongst the electoral observers in Mangochi District. Overall, the elections were regarded as successful. However, in the period leading up to the elections, the state media's campaign for the president and his party, at the expense of other candidacies, was criticised. Studies of media content strongly supported this criticism. The elections had no repercussions and international observation showed that they were fair and confirmed correct vote counting on election-day.
There was some economic progress made in the year despite the rising prices of fuel and agricultural input. The government continued supporting cultivation by farmers engaged in subsistence farming by subsidising fertiliser as in previous years. In March, at the end of the rainy season, there was a record harvest in the country, leaving a considerable surplus for the following year. The price of tobacco fell from the previous year, affecting the country's revenues as export revenues from tobacco amount to around 70% of Malawi's foreign currency earnings. Other main export commodities are tea and coffee. Towards the end of the year there was a severe currency shortage which lead to fuel rationing and shortage in many places. The World Bank estimated that the consequent loss amounted to a total of 100 billion kwatcha in November alone.
Farmers engaged in subsistence farming are 80% of a population heavily dependent on food production. The main product is maize which is the daily necessity in every household. The government's chief policy is “food security” achieved by cultivating enough maize to avoid famine until next year's crop has been harvested. There is only one annual harvest. The plan is to launch a cultivation effort in the districts on Lake Malawi and use irrigation to increase diversity in cultivation and production. The lake itself is one of the main sources of protein for the population as fishery is an important industry. Fishing stocks in the lake are overexploited and the increased fishing effort has caused the lake to yield less than before as the fishing stocks cannot support increased fishing.
The country suffers from chronic power shortages and only 6% of the inhabitants have access to electricity. Malawi is isolated from the power grids of other countries and must generate its own energy. Rationing of electricity is very frequent and those dependent on electricity cannot rely on it. The country's power stations are supplied by hydroelectric plants with considerable possibilities of increased productivity. Maintenance seems to be a problem as failures in the power stations and the power lines are common.
In 2009, a uranium mine was opened in Malawi, with foreign parties constituting the majority of owners, which is anticipated to generate significant income for the state in the future. Malawi is believed to have possibilities in mineral processing. There are several coal mines in the country, however the inhabitants mostly go to those woods that can be utilised to make charcoal and therefore desertification, with resulting erosion, is a major problem.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa and also the poorest of those countries free from unrest. Maternal and infant mortality are amongst the highest in the world. Illiteracy is high and drop-out rates from primary schools is close to 50% as the children stop school before completing the senior classes. This is more common in the case of girls than boys, although the situation is generally bad. The ratio of those who graduate from secondary schools is very low and the lack of education is an obvious curb to development in the country. Diseases such as malaria, respiratory illnesses and diarrhoea are responsible for many deaths in children. The AIDS virus has infected 14-15% of the population. The country's birth rate is six children per woman and the current population of Malawi stands at 13 million. Obviously, the country suffers from overpopulation and there is serious doubt as to whether the country will be able to sustain the increasing population. Malawi is faced with rapid population increase, deforestation, desertification, overexploitation of resources, diseases and lack of education. It is therefore evident that the country's problems are multifarious and in no way easily resolved, neither in the short nor the long term.
Domestic stability is a major factor in Malawi's favour vis-à-vis donors, many of whom increased their contributions following the elections on the grounds that the prospects were considered good. Nonetheless, there were also some cases were contributions were decreased by the donors due to their own domestic difficulties, Iceland being one. Iceland's contribution to Malawi amounts to just over 3.1 million US$, which is a decrease from the 4.8 million US$ in the previous year. At the end of the year, it became evident that Iceland's contribution would be further decreased and amount to 2.3 million US$ in 2010. Malawi is extremely dependent on contributions from foreign states as foreign grants amount to 30-40% of the state budget. In 2009, it became evident that China had now taken over Taiwan's role in Malawi. The Chinese are currently constructing a new parliament building, a conference hall, and a national stadium for Malawi.
Malawi is at present carrying out a review on the implementation of development cooperation. The plan is to direct as much as possible of donor funds to the so-called sector-wide approach where the government and the donors combine their efforts for the optimal utilisation of funds and organisation. The donor countries are expected to share in this effort. The defined development sectors now count 16 and it is planned that each Donor Partner takes active role in two to three of these. This transition is in its early stages and it is estimated that 70% of total donor funds are allocated to Direct Project Support.
Development Cooperation between ICEIDA and Malawi
ICEIDA's cooperation project in fisheries at Monkey Bay ended in 2009 and the project will not be continued. The nature of the support to the Monkey Bay community hospital was altered and a special project manager will not be located there as the support will be managed from ICEIDA's Lilongwe office. In 2010, support towards adult education, water and sanitation projects, as well as the Monkey Bay community hospital, will be continued.
In 2009, Stella Samúelsdóttir completed her work for ICEIDA in Malawi after nearly five years and her replacement was Jo Tore Berg who is the project manager for adult education. Stefán Kristmannsson completed his work for the fisheries project. Other posted members of staff were Stefán Jón Hafstein, Country Director, Glúmur Baldvinsson, Project Manager, Water and Sanitation, and Ásdís Bjarnadóttir, administrator at the office.
Support to the Education Sector
The ICEIDA supported Adult Literacy Project in Traditional Authority Nankumba is implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development. It is part of the Malawi Government's efforts to support socio-economic development in the area. Literacy levels in Mangochi District are the lowest in Malawi. It is estimated that only 38 % of women and 59 % of men age 15 years and above are literate. ICEIDA support to the Adult Literacy Project commenced in 2001 with 4 literacy circles. By the year 2009, 94 adult literacy circles have been established in the area with 1695 female and 160 male participants. In November 2009, a total of 1020 literacy participants were assessed to find those who have attained literacy skills. 506 participants passed the test, representing a 49% pass rate.
REFLECT (Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques) is the methodology that is used to impart literacy skills to adult learners in this project. According to REFLECT, people should not only learn how to read and write, but focus should be on empowering people to take actions in their local communities. Discussion on development issues are thus an integrated part of the literacy circles activities. It is through such discussions that action points are hatched. An action point is a collective action which the adult learners in collaboration with other community members have agreed to embark on, as a solution to their problem. Promotion of discussions has resulted in a variety of action points in 2009 including construction of a teacher's house, primary school blocks and learning shelters. Guest speakers have also come to the project to talk about issues such as HIV/AIDS, environmental management, family planning and gender based violence.
At the celebrations of the International Rural Women's Day, which took place in Mangochi District, the President of Malawi, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, was introduced to the adult literacy project. The President was able to appreciate products from livelihood groups supported by the project and acknowledged the importance of such activities to fight poverty. Eleven livelihood projects were established in 2008 for literacy participants to boost their economic status. The livelihood projects include goat-keeping, vegetable growing and poultry. 156 circle participants benefit directly from these livelihood projects. A pass-on system has been introduced in the livelihood projects with goats. Under this system, more adult learners will benefit since the first female offsprings are passed on to other circle members.
The construction of the Monkey Bay Community Resource Centre including two staff houses was completed in 2009. At the centre there are offices for government staff working on adult literacy, a conference hall, seminar rooms and a kitchen for skills trainings. The National Library is going to establish a library at the centre. A water and sanitation demonstration centre is being developed at the plot, including two hand dug shallow wells that will supply water for the vegetable and fruit garden at the centre. Ecological sanitation latrines have been developed for people who come to the centre to see and emulate in their homes. Community volunteers have also been trained in permaculture and are working to transform the plot into a green and productive area. The centre has not yet been connected with electricity and this has delayed the opening to 2010.
ICEIDA has constructed and rehabilitated several schools in Mangochi District. A formal handover ceremony took place in April at St. Augustine I Primary School for all the 10 schools that ICEIDA has constructed or rehabilitated in 2007-2008. Needed furniture was also procured and delivered to Malenga, Mponya, Msasa and St. Augustine I primary schools in 2009.
Support to the Health Sector
This year, a new Project Document for ICEIDA's Monkey Bay community hospital project was adopted, which entails certain changes being made to the previous arrangement. Now there will no longer be an Icelandic project manager at the hospital and no Icelandic employee will be involved in daily management. The Malawian staff members will take on added responsibility for the utilisation of the operational support from Iceland, while cooperation with the district authorities is at the same time increased significantly. Iceland's support is multifaceted and entails i.a. funds for new buildings, professional assistance, and other support. Operational support is limited and used mainly to secure the operation of ambulances, health zone communication, monitoring visits in the neighbouring areas, etc. A cooperation agreement was concluded with the Reykjavík University whereby Dr. Geir Gunnlaugsson and Dr. Guðjón Magnússon would become advisors during the project period; sadly, Dr. Magnússon passed away at the end of the year.
The hospital has progressed considerably since plans for support to a health centre were first put into operation and has now developed to becoming close to a fully equipped community hospital. It now has wards for in-patients, an operating theatre, a research laboratory and facilities for infant care, as well as offering counselling for AIDS and infant care. The old maternity ward's resources were under great pressure and therefore a new and excellent ward was planned in 2009, becoming operational in the first half of 2010. The future aim is to construct a paediatric ward and improve facilities for outpatients who pay over 50 thousand visits annually. Furthermore, a health centre will be refurbished in a remote area which is seriously lacking in facilities and isolated.
It is evident that the authorities' decision to no longer allow traditional birth attendants to deliver babies and provide counselling during pregnancies, will increase considerably the pressure on existing health establishments. The services provided by the hospital and within the Monkey Bay Health Zone are renowned amongst the locals who claim its existence has marked a watershed as shown by a survey carried out in 2009 by Geir Gunnlaugsson and Jónína Einarsdóttir. The project has now been in operation for close to a decade and the current Project Document will remain valid until the end of 2011.
Support to Water and Sanitation
The project is making good progress in providing the majority of the inhabitants of TA Nankumba in the Nankumba Peninsual in Mangochi District with clean and potable water. Around 110,000 people live in the area and the target is that by the end of 2010 the majority of inhabitants will have access to water wells within 500 m from their homes. TA Nankumba lies on the shores of Lake Malawi and the reason for launching the project in 2006 was that diseases linked to poor sanitation and polluted water, such as cholera and diarrhoea, were extremely common in the area and claimed many lives. This was caused by an extensive lack of access to wells with clean water which is a common problem in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in other developing countries, especially in the rural areas.
The project has both educational and health-related aspects and assumes maximum participation by locals. The construction of wells is not undertaken until the villagers have established water point committees and declared their willingness to participate. The training initiative concerns the handling of water, maintenance of the wells, although, first and foremost, the necessity to improve sanitation to fight diseases. The locals contribute to the construction of the wells, such as providing materials and labour. This demand driven approach and emphasis on maximum participation by the locals themselves is aimed at instilling a sense of ownership of the wells by the locals as well as reinforcing the point that it is their responsibility to maintain the wells and manage the water. The sanitation aspect is extremely important and intricate as the sanitation campaign requires a change of attitude – a change in traditions and customs. Continuous training and dialogue amongst the locals is therefore a key issue. The project provides material for the construction or repair of covered latrines but otherwise the locals themselves are responsible for the construction of the general sanitation facilities, including facilities for bathing and hand-washing. For this reason, no well is handed over to the locals until it has been guaranteed that a large majority of the villagers has installed decent sanitation facilities.
At the end of 2009 close to 300 wells (shallow wells and boreholes) had been constructed under the project and in addition forty older, inactive boreholes in the area were repaired. In all likelihood, the target of the project of 450 active wells for over twenty thousand homes will be achieved by the end of 2010. Furthermore, on the basis of the project, great effort has been put into refurbishing pit latrines and general sanitation facilities for around ten thousand homes at the end of 2009, with the aim of improving sanitation facilities for as many homes in the area as possible, where improvement is needed, by the end of the project period. Statistics show that the incidence rate of cholera and diarrhoea in TA Nankumba over the project period has decreased significantly. The main goal now towards the end of the project is to secure, in close cooperation with the locals, that this development will be permanent.
Support to the Fisheries Sector
ICEIDA's fisheries project at Lake Malawi came to an end in 2009. Following a review carried out in late 2008, it was decided to extend the project for one year, although the project period had ended, in order to complete key aspects of the project. The main purpose of the project was the development of boats and gear which could be used in deeper waters than was customary. Fishermen living on the coast generally use dugout canoes that are dangerous in deep waters and cannot manage heavy gear. In addition, it is estimated that fishing stocks close to the coast are overexploited whereas further out there are stocks hitherto unexploited.
Two prototype wooden boats were constructed by Malawian boat builders using local wood. The boats, larger than the traditional boats, passed stability tests. The material and construction of one of the boats built by the locals were inadequate whereas the other boat, made from plywood by a designated domestic boat builder, was more successful and could be used as a model. A fibreglass boat is probably most able to fulfill the requirements concerning fishing in deep offshore waters. The gear was tested in 2008-2009, but the preliminary conclusions were inconclusive. An expert that examined the gear in late 2009 made some observations that can be used for further development of the gear.
Safety courses for fishermen were also organised within the project. The weather on the lake is often bad and accidents amongst fishermen frequent, and therefore it was considered important to emphasise the training aspect as well as other aspects in close cooperation with local fishing authorities. A total of 3,123 participants attended the courses and it is said that accidents on the lake have since decreased. Instruction in business management was also offered in fishing villages, aimed at improving the livelihoods of fishermen and traders, making it easier for them to increase their sales incomes on grounds of improved handling and marketing. This was well received and a total of 739 received training, of which women were 45%. In addition, fish handling and processing manual for small-scale fish processors and fish traders was prepared.
A production plant was opened in Monkey Bay, in Madzedze village, where training will be provided on other possible processing methods and to improve facilities for fish-processing. It is now possible to dry and smoke fish, land the catches and there is a shed is at the site. The facilities are run by the local fishing authority for the utilisation of locals.
Cross-Cutting Issues - Gender
ICEIDA in Malawi pursues gender equality policy in the implementation of projects, i.a.by providing women as well as men with equal opportunities to receive vocational training. Scholarships have been granted in many projects, which usually means that a Malawian employee, involved in the project, is provided with an opportunity to seek training or education relevant to the job. Care is taken to give both women and men an opportunity to make use of such offers. The same policy is followed within the ICEIDA staff group. In 2009, seven members of the ICEIDA staff, all of them women, had entered some kind of vocational training supported by the agency. This was training in auditing and bookkeeping, business training and a computer course.