Like any rich economy, Malawi has resources to enable potential growth. However, the country is perceived of lacking strenuous and sustainable policies and efforts towards addressing the economic issues.
Countries like USA, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China went through hard social-economic policy reforms to cuddle the present ego status. Policy reforms focused on incentives on investments, human resource development, technology and political will. The super powers have consequently created substantial international demand for their products and have triggered global demand for their currencies.
Meanwhile, Malawian economy is experiencing scarcity of foreign currency which has resulted into shortage of fuel, medicine and immensity of transactions at the commercial banks for foreign currency. Malawi has narrow sources of foreign currency. The economy staggeringly depends on donor community. The economy also austerely depends on tobacco, tea and tourism for forex.
This economic anguish is a result of accumulated economic and financial mistakes by the political leaders and the civil society. Malawi requires a strategic direction by developing strategic goals and objectives. The strategic document should not be swayed by any political maneuver but owned and managed by the general public. For example, the Nsanje Inland Port (NIP) and the devaluation of the local currency.
The DPP government advocated for Nsanje Inland Port with estimation that the project would reduce transportation cost by 60 percent. The government accepted to devalue the currency unless alternative means to the welfare of the people were found. On the other hand PP government has given less attention to the port and has accepted to devalue the currency with the view of receiving donations. Another government will understand the whole economy in a different way.
A strategic direction focuses on reducing demand for foreign currency by increasing domestic productivity and consumption. At this point the economy seeks to recognise only those products which can be produced locally and promote domestic consumption to avoid leakage of forex.
The strategic goals and objectives should emulate good agricultural practices. Increased production of food crops such as maize, wheat, sorghum, beans, groundnuts, millet and cassava would help to significantly reduce the inflation on food commodities. They are significant source of food to over 90 percent of Malawians.
The current farm input subsidy programmes are ideal to raise the productivity and food security at household level. Commercial farmers of food crops are equally important to the economy. The economy has so many graduates from Bunda College of Agriculture who only need support from the government.
This ensures sustainable food security in the country and resilience to some economic shocks. However, in long run the expected challenges would be climate change with erratic rains and dry out of some water bodies. This will challenge irrigation scheme in the country. In view of this environmental experts have a great task to civic educate the public on tree conservations methods.
The cash crops like cotton, tea, tobacco, fruits and sugar should be given unflinching attention. Small companies are then developed to process the agricultural products to the end products to fetch high prices.
We were brought up to believe that Malawi is poor and has no precious resources such as oil, baxite, the world controversial uranium which is in abundance in Malawi and high quality iron ore.
While we appreciate the scarcity of the local technocrats and huge capital requirements on mining, it would be imperative to develop policy framework governing the award of contracts to the foreign investors. It is suicidal for the foreign investor to reap the resources with the pretence of petty employment to the locals.
The comparison of the income collected by the investors, tax and salaries to the government and locals respectively may distress minds. The trend depletes the local resources with nothing in return. The employment to the locals and the tax to the government are not substantial to turn around the economy. The government has mandate to financially support the locals to acquire 51 percent of the shares in any company. This enables the operations to be
THE Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha) and the Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (Fedoma) organised a half-day media workshop on Community-based Rehabilitation (CBR) which was held in Lilongwe on Wednesday, last week. The workshop sought to not only raise awareness among journalists on CBR, but also to orient them on the valuable role they can play in ensuring that communities, policy makers and programme planners are aware of the positive impact such a programme can make in the lives of persons with disabilities.
CBR is a strategy within a community for the rehabilitation, equalisation of opportunities and social inclusion of all persons with disabilities. The primary objective is to improve quality of life of persons with disability and marginalized persons. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), CBR was initiated in the mid-1980s but has evolved to become a multi-sectoral strategy that empowers persons with disabilities to access and benefit from education, employment, health and social services.
The journalists were informed that CBR is not an approach that only focuses on the physical or medical needs of a person or delivering care to persons with disabilities as passive recipients. They were reminded that the strategy is not determined by the needs of an institution or groups of professionals; neither is it segregated and separated from services for other people.
Rather, they were informed that CBR involves partnerships with persons with disabilities (both adults and children), their families and carers. It involves capacity building of persons with disabilities and their families, in the context of their community and culture. It is a holistic approach encompassing physical, social, employment, educational, economic and other needs.
It was noted that although CBR has proved to be an extremely powerful development strategy at community levels, the Government is yet to explicitly acknowledge it as one of its innovative poverty-reduction strategies that it can adopt at national scale in the same way it has done with programmes like Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (FISP), One Village One Products (OVOP), Food for Work, and many others.
It is, therefore, in this context that the media can play a very important role in documenting real-life success stories with a view of highlighting the fact that CBR is just as indispensable as other development programmes. In fact, there are a good number of exclusive stories out there that demonstrate how CBR can make marginalised members of communities self-sufficient in a more cost-effective manner, unlike FISP which appears to be driven by political prospects than the actual need on the ground.
The media need not only to increase community awareness on CBR, but also help to provide objective analysis on the strategy. Through their stories, journalists can help to challenge policy makers that unless persons with disabilities are brought into the development mainstream, it will be impossible to cut poverty by half by 2015.
controlled by the locals and the income banked with the local banks. It would therefore be imperative for government to postpone mining deals if it has no enough financial resources to support the locals on any investment project.
Tourism is also perceived income torrent, however, its success relies on infrastructural development, human resource development and the biodiversity. Globally tourism is a no boundary industry with multiplicity of resources and financial potential.
However, Malawi relies heavily on natural products like mountains, lakes and wildlife. These aspects are common in the neighboring countries and are better particularly wildlife in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania and mountains in Kenya. It eventually makes the tourist indifferent on destinations to visit. This is coupled with economic crisis in the source markets particularly Europe. The austerity measures have deprived people of social benefits by increasing taxes and reduce government expenditures on some social aspects.
This lowers the number of leisure tourists to the country. Therefore, it is well to start considering some avenues in tourism which are perceived resilient. Education tourism, health tourism, sports tourism and business tourism are key and resilient. We need to develop the education to attract students from abroad, improve health facilities to attract the neighboring people and produce products which foreigners should come to Malawi to buy and leave us with forex.
The author is Senior Business Training Officer with the Malawi Institute of Tourism