Chakwera’s distress call over the Covid-19 pandemic has received positive response from development partners some of whom have adjusted their budgets while relief agencies are pouring in resources.
In a statement on Tuesday, European Union (EU) head of development Ivo Hoefkens said the delegation with its partners, notably Germany, Ireland and the European Investment Bank, was spending about 60 million euros (about K60 billion) under the Covid-19 response to Malawi after making budget adjustments.
He said: “When Covid-19 started taking off in Malawi, the EU delegation, the European Investment Bank and the German and Irish embassies devised a joint support package.
“That ‘Team Europe’ managed to get some fresh funds from the national and Union budgets [approximately three million euros], but mainly pruned ongoing programmes with unspent funds. The total amount of just over 60 million was then allocated to several ongoing programmes, allowing these to include Covid-19 response measures.”
Hoefkens said the joint initiative of ‘Team Europe’ supports three broad objectives, including programmes mitigating the social and economic impact of the pandemic.
He said: “This entails supporting the government’s programme on social cash transfers, temporarily targeting also vulnerable households in urban areas, the government’s programme on school feeding, allowing in particular to continue this through take-home rations while schools are closed or under restrictive measures, and, to a lesser extent, recovery support to SMEs and smallholder farmers.”
According to Hoefkens, a second broad objective concerns support to water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) which involves a broad set of interventions ranging from setting up Wash infrastructure and providing Wash supplies to an interest rate subsidy for water facilities and awareness raising on preventive measures.
He said: “The third and final objective specifically aims to provide immediate health response, whether it is in the form of PPE, medical equipment or training of health workers and information to the public.
“Several of the interventions under this comprehensive package are being implemented through third parties, including EU member State agencies such as GIZ and KfW, UN agencies such as FAO, Unicef and WFP or CSOs such as Nice, Coopi and Danish Red Cross.
“While these interventions are being implemented, Team Europe at the central level, i.e. EU institutions and EU member States, also provides support to global initiatives that benefit Malawi.”
Hoefkens added that internationally, ‘Team Europe’ has announced over 850 million euros for the Covax facility to help secure 1.3 billion doses of vaccination for 92 low and middle-income countries which will include Malawi and contributed 180 million euros to the International Monetary Fund Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust for debt service relief in 29 low-income countries, allowing them to increase their social, health and economic spending in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
On the other hand, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) said on Tuesday that by Tuesday, relief agencies had donated items valued at over K1.6 billion through the government agency.
Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said in a written statement that since the President’s declaration of State of National Disaster, government has received support from various organisations and individuals.
He said the department has received assorted Covid-19 preventive materials worth K1.6 billion from Malawi Red Cross Society and 50 000 surgical masks worth K25 million from Nyasa Manufacturing Company.
Khamula said the donations have been made through the Ministry of Health. He said the People’s Republic of China has also pledged to donate 100 000 surgical masks and 20 portable ventilators.
Meanwhile, the private citizens’ fundraising initiative to mobilise resources for Covid-19 on Tuesday announced it had raised K105 million in 11 days. The initiative is led by Stanley Kenani and Thandiwe Hara, both Malawians based in Europe.