The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (Ituc-Africa) says Malawi faces challenges in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ituc-Africa says currently, the country is far from achieving the set global goals by 2030.
Ituc-Africa, a pan-African trade union organisation with 17 million members and 101 affiliated trade union centres in 51 African countries including Malawi, has bemoaned insufficient budgetary allocations towards SDGs and insufficient funding for sector working groups, which it says is limiting their capacity to coordinate the implementation of the SDGs.
Malawi alongside other United Nations member States adopted SDGs in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
The country has integrated the SDGs into its national development plan—Malawi Growth and Development Strategy for 2017-2022 (MGDS III)—which also cascades down to the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (Mtef), sectoral policies and strategic plans and annual budgets.
The National Planning Commission oversees the integration of the SDGs into national plans while also monitoring, enforcing implementation and reporting on the country’s performance on the 2030 Agenda.
However, five years down the line and with exactly a decade remaining for Malawi to meet the 17 integrated ambitious goals, Ituc-Africa feels the country is off track.
In its report on Malawi titled A Trade Union Focus on the SDGs, the regional body says given Malawi’s placement at the bottom of the global ranking in the Human Development Index (HDI of 0.485 in 2019, 172nd place), “enormous challenges are in the way of Malawi reaching the SDGs”.
“With 70 percent of its population living under the internationally defined poverty rate, Malawi faces significant challenges in meeting SDG one of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere,” it reads.
The proportion of the population living in poverty was at 87 percent, suggesting that target 1.1 of eradicating extreme poverty is far from being met, it says.
According to Ituc-Africa, in 2020, the country’s working poverty rate based on modelled estimates stood at 64.2 percent, mainly caused by low wages and rising cost of living.
On the same, the body also casts doubt on Malawi’s ability to reach the target 1.3 (implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures) as the proportion of the population covered by at least one social protection benefit stood at only 21.3 percent in 2016.
“There are also significant obstacles to Malawi meeting the targets set by SDG 8 of promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all…the 2018 unemployment rate stood at 18.5 percent, suggesting challenges in fulfilling a target of 8.5 of full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men,” it says.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ituc policy analyst Alex Nkosi said meeting the target on progressive achievement of greater equality also remains a challenge as the labour share of gross domestic product (GDP) remains low, standing at 35.1 percent in 2017.
In 2016, the income share of the top 10 percent of income earners stood at 38.1 percent while the share of the bottom 20 percent of income earners accounted for only 6.4 percent.
Said Nkosi:“Today more than ever, the SDGs show the way in building up a sustainable and inclusive economy and society.
“Trade unions call on the Government of Malawi to ensure urgent action to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic in line with the SDGs.”
According to a Malawi 2020 Voluntary National Review (VNR) report for SDGs released last month, government is committed to making sure that the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs is pursued to improve the livelihoods of all Malawians and contribute to the global social economic development.
In the report, UN-Malawi resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres said the UN remains committed to supporting Malawi to achieve the goals and objectives of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
She said the UN will ensure collective human, technical and financial resources are organised and deployed in the most effective and efficient manner.
The UN in Malawi, through its development cooperation framework, the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework is supporting Malawi to implement the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs.