The Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Malawi says it derives joy when the multi-faceted development efforts it facilitates in the country end up improving the lives of ordinary Malawians who are often struggling to get by in life.
EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation Marchel Gerrmann made the statement during the celebrations of Europe Day at his residence in Lilongwe on Thursday night.
Describing the 39-year-old bilateral relationship between the EU and Malawi as strong, genuine, long-lasting and including political, economical and development sectors, Gerrmann pointed out that, among other outcomes, the bond had seen 750 000 Malawians accessing safe drinking water over the past five years, with the EU also rehabilitating some 500 kilometres of rural roads and 30 bridges per year.
“But at the end of the day, it is not about the big numbers. What we really want is to make a difference to the lives of ordinary Malawians who are often struggling to get by,” the envoy stated.
He commended the Malawi Government for launching a number of reforms needed to put the country back on track to sustainable economic growth and the reduction of poverty but he cautioned that the greater challenge is in the systematic implementation of the reforms.
Stressed Gerrmann: “For the reforms to be successful, it will require sustained political commitment and joint support from everyone involved. Let me express, unequivocally, that the EU is behind these reforms and that we will fully support the implementation.”
He announced that, following recent bilateral discussions, the EU will offer Malawi 560 million euros for the years 2015-2020, under the 11th European Development Fund, whose priority sectors will be agriculture and food security, education and governance.
He commended the government for recently enacting bills that will enhance gender and child rights in Malawi.
He expressed hope that the government will take to Parliament the Access to Information Bill soon, as the Bill will promote domestic accountability through the media and the civil society, among other players.
The envoy offered EU’s readiness to help Malawi overcome hurdles like a booming population, which is the highest in the southern Africa region, and climate change, some of whose effects were the recent devastating floods the nation experienced this rainy season.
In response, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister George Chaponda saluted the EU as a reliable and beneficial partner that has contributed significantly to the reduction of poverty among Malawians.
He said government is thankful for the EU aid and cooperation and is committed to upholding the rule of law and the implementation of the public service reforms.
“Our focus will now be on implementation and I wish to take this opportunity to assure you that there is political will at the highest levels of government to ensure that the reforms are implemented, with an emphasis on systemic changes,” Chaponda stated.