International Development Committee - The Development Situation in Malawi Written evidence submitted by World Vision UK

World Vision is a child focused Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, their families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision is the world’s largest local charity working in 100 countries to improve the lives of 100 million people worldwide.

No child should live in poverty and the best way to change the life of a child is to change the world in which they live. We see children and their communities as active participants in shaping a better future, empowering them to find sustainable solutions to poverty.

World Vision welcomes this opportunity to provide written evidence to the International Development Select Committee into the Development Situation in Malawi in which we have focused on areas directly relevant to our work and our experiences.

1. World Vision in Malawi

1.1 World Vision has been working in Malawi since 1981 and is currently the largest International NGO working in the country. Our programming is community-based development focusing on three programmatic areas: transformational development, advocacy and humanitarian and emergency affairs. Current programming includes health and nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support and education. Our advocacy focuses on empowering citizens to understand their rights and influencing policy at local, national, regional and international level. Currently WV Malawi is operating across 26 of the 28 districts in Malawi with an average portfolio of US$30million in the last three years and a staff compliment of 543 of which 400 are working in the communities we serve.

1.2 World Vision supports DFID’s very positive engagement in Malawi including programming which we are able to deliver through our PPA with DFID. We are pleased to use our knowledge and expertise of working for three decades in Malawi and of working closely with a range of donors to advise the Committee on DFID’s work and the development challenges which exist in the country.

2 DFID’s Approach in Malawi

2.1 DFID is one of the largest donors in Malawi. In 2010–11, the UK Government—through DFID—provided approximately £70 million in assistance to Malawi—approximately £19 million was disbursed as general budget support, £26 million as sector budget support through the Government of Malawi and the remaining £25 million was delivered through NGO partners or DFID programmes to support the poor. The impact of its funding together with external partners over the last 11 years is significant. For example, since the introduction of free primary school education in 1994, it has helped Malawi to achieve an increase in enrolment rates by about 60% and following this, as many girls as boys were enrolled in primary schools and young people’s literacy rose from 63% to 76%. In the humanitarian sector, DFID provided £24.5 million to help the Government of Malawi manage the 2005–06 food crisis, providing food and seeds to 4.2 million people. In 2006–07, DFID provided £2.25 million to help meet acute needs of over 830,000 people as a result of localised droughts and floods and contributed £5 million to the government’s fertiliser and seed subsidy programme targeting two million households.

2.2 Our experience of DFID in Malawi is of a bilateral aid agency which demonstrates a strong commitment towards the Paris Declaration for Aid Effectiveness reflected in its strong aid policy, performance management, systems, programming and value for money. The DFID Country Assistance Plan for 2011 to 2015 for Malawi has yet to be approved. However, with reference to the previous plan, World Vision considers DFID support for the Malawi Government as critical. The 2007–11 Country Plan focused on three areas which are vital to Malawi’s development and we urge them to continue with this focus:

2.2.1Improving governance and longer term stability and managing change by strengthening the main democratic institutions and by supporting people’s ability to demand change and improve policy-making and implementation.

2.2.2Backing the Government’s efforts to promote growth through a stable economic environment and transformation of agricultural markets and helping those who do not benefit from growth.

2.2.3Improving people’s health and education through the delivery of basic services focused on achieving results.1

2.3 These priority areas remain critical for the development of the country and are fully integrated into other approaches and strategies supporting the development of Malawi including the Common Approach for the Budgetary Support (CABS), and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy—the country’s comprehensive development framework which is working towards Malawi’s attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

2.4 World Vision recommends that DFID builds on the priorities laid out in the 2007–11 Country Plan in their new Country Plan. These priorities are integrated with other strategies which exist in the country and DFID’s long term commitment to these is critical for Malawi to make progress towards the MDGs.

3 DFID’s Role in Improving Opportunities for Economic Growth and Job Creation

3.1 Malawi’s agricultural economy has largely been based on the tobacco and tea sectors. Cotton is currently an upcoming sector of its own. There is great opportunity for economic growth and job creation within the cotton sector with the right investment and support from donor governments. World Vision believes DFID should help to facilitate the growth of the cotton sector to create economic growth and jobs. According to the October 2011 Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) report, the government of Malawi has planned to implement a cotton production subsidy programme worth about 1.6 billion Malawian Kwacha (£6.1 million) but the scarcity of foreign exchange (potentially exacerbated by the withdrawal of budget support) will have an effect on the implementation of this programme. The cotton subsidy is expected to support all farmers interested in growing cotton as a cash crop with high yielding seeds and pesticides.2 World Vision recommends targeting support primarily through different value chains to address production constraints in order to boost the production capacity of Malawi. This will enable Malawi to meet its international market demands. The agricultural sector should also venture into agro processing and value addition which we believe would create more jobs.

3.2 There is also the need to strengthen the economic sector in Malawi by supporting the establishment of associations for business groups with a key focus on building capacity for the business associations. Supporting the growing of SMEs would also help to build the economy of Malawi. Given that the economy for Malawi is agro-based, World Vision believes that it is critical that DFID consider strengthening the participation of smallholder producers through broad based agro-enterprise development initiatives that contribute to the economic activities of the country.

3.3 Investing in income generation activities is imperative to improving opportunities for economic growth and job creation, but this needs to be coupled with investment in capacity building processes. World Vision recommends focusing support particularly towards the youth vocational skills sector and targeting vulnerable groups including women, youth, people with disabilities and people living with HIV and AIDS.

4. DFID’s Role in Contributing to the Achievement of The MDGs in Malawi

4.1 According to the 2010 UNDP report on Beyond the Mid-point, Malawi is reported to have gained a status of “achieved or on track to be achieved by 2015” for MDGs on poverty and hunger, child mortality, HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria and, environmental sustainability. At the same time, Malawi is almost certainly lagging behind on education, gender equality and maternal health. Nonetheless, DFID reports do indicate support being made to the country including on education, maternal mortality and gender.3

World Vision recommends increased support on health especially maternal, newborn and child health and education with a key focus on infrastructural development and teacher training as well as strengthening gender support which is necessary for helping put Malawi on track to achieving the MDGs.

4.2 Continued support with regard to resources will help keep Malawi on track. However, the country is contending with: “a critical shortage of capacity and skills needed for effective delivery of basic services and the implementation of development programmes; limitations in data collection systems needed for effective MDG monitoring; and improvements in infrastructure needed to support rural and economic development including roads, food storage and energy sector.”4

These are the areas where partners such as DFID can make a significant contribution and World Vision encourages the UK Government to increase its focus in this area. Resources directed towards this aspect with clear support mechanisms for implementation would address the challenges.

5. The Role of DFID in Protection of Civil Liberties including Freedom of Expression and Access to Justice

5.1 DFID Malawi has concentrated efforts on improving governance and longer term stability and managed change by strengthening the main democratic institutions and by supporting people’s ability to demand change and improve policy-making and implementation.

5.2 World Vision welcomes this approach which resonates with our own approach, “Citizen Voice and Action”, which we have seen makes a real and lasting difference to communities living with poverty as it seeks to empower citizens and communities to influence the quality, efficiency and accountability of public services. The approach also allows increased access to, and use of, government information to inform citizens’ choice and action. This approach, which World Vision, DFID and others are taking, is helping to create opportunities to share information and generate knowledge within communities about the performance and reform of public services, such as health and education. Both health and education are imperative to achieving child well-being. World Vision urges DFID to continue to focus on supporting programmes which empower communities to demand higher quality public services and the delivering and implementation of health and education policies.

6. The Conditions Under which the UK should Continue to Provide Development Assistance to Malawi

6.1 Malawi gets 40% of its annual budget from donors, with 20% of its aid coming from Britain. The withdrawal of budget support by the UK government (as with from other donors) is a significant challenge to many Malawians as 72% of them live on less than $2 a day. Some of the many areas affected are as follows:

6.1.1The Malawi economy is currently experiencing economic instability as the supply of foreign currency in the country has suddenly decreased making it difficult for traders to purchase and import essential commodities, such as fuel and fertiliser among other goods.5

6.1.2Rising seed and fertiliser prices have already forced the government to scale down its subsidy initiative and supplies are delayed. World Vision believes this setback increases the likelihood of the Malawi failing to have surplus food.

6.1.3Health and education sectors are being seriously impacted with teachers receiving late payment of salaries, which will in turn lead to poor service delivery.

6.1.4World Vision has experienced problems with fuel shortages which affect delivery of basic essentials to our programmes and services such as hospitals are being affected through power failure.

6.2 World Vision urges the UK Government to continue to dialogue with the Malawian Government, which is accountable to their own citizens, to find solutions. We recommend that conditions of assistance to the Malawi Government from the UK should include the strengthening of the Malawi Government’s accountability mechanisms, particularly with regard to effective service delivery in the country.

6.3 The UK Government must take its own view on whether it can provide budget support through the Government of Malawi. World Vision does not intend to comment on the justification or not of this, but is concerned that the impact of such a decision is to affect people living in communities where Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) makes a life changing difference. World Vision encourages the UK Government to look for mechanisms which support some of the poorest people in Malawi and so that the impact of any cessation of budget support does not impact on the poorest the most.

6.4 In countries such as Zimbabwe where the UK has decided to end budget support, alternatives have been found. World Vision suggests that a mechanism such as the “multi donor trust fund,” which was introduced in Zimbabwe in 2010, could be set up. This could support priority recovery activities, particularly in critical sectors such as health and education, of the Government of Malawi, but without the Government having direct control over the disbursement of funds.

6.5 As with Zimbabwe, the African Development Bank could be designated to manage such a fund with the endorsement of the Government of Malawi and the donor community which would provide a channel through which donors can mobilise donor resources and promote donor coordination. This would ensure that donors can confidently commit development assistance focused initially on those sectors which are currently being adversely affected such as health and education.

7. Summary of Recommendations

7.1 DFID should promote and assist the Government of Malawi through the creation of a favourable environment for economic development by:

7.1.1Helping to facilitate the growth of the cotton sector which will create economic growth and jobs.

7.1.2Supporting the establishment of associations for business groups focussing on building capacity for these associations, which will in turn strengthen the economic sector in Malawi.

7.2 World Vision recommends increased support on health, especially maternal, newborn and child health and education with a key focus on infrastructural development and teacher training as well as strengthening gender support which is necessary for helping put Malawi on track to achieving the MDGs.

7.3 DFID should direct resources towards improving capacity and skills training for delivery of basic services to help keep Malawi on track for achieving the MDGs.

7.4 World Vision recommends the setting up of a “multi donor trust fund,” in order to support priority recovery activities of the Government of Malawi, but without the Government having direct control over the disbursement of funds.

February 2012

1 DFID Malawi Country Assistance Plan 2007–11.

2 FEWSNET Report, 2011 which also indicates that “there is a possibility that the foreign currency scarcity will negatively impact the implementation of the program.”

3 Country Assessment plan for 2007–11. In addition, according to a statement made by DFID in July, 2011 DFID support to strengthen the health service in Malawi has helped save the lives of 3,200 pregnant women and 40,000 children since 2004. Further, DFID support has built over 3,200 primary school classrooms and 4,800 toilets since 2001 and this has helped keep more girls in school.

4 UNDP, MDG midpoint, 2010.

5 FEWSNET outlook for October 11 to March 2012, pg 2.

Prepared 23rd July 2012