Malawi has improved on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, increasing by 0.05 points from 0.36 in 2010 to 0.41 in 2020 amid fears that Covid-19 may reverse these gains.
The improvement means the gap between rich and poor households in the country has decreased with the ratio between the richest and poorest 20 percent of the population is 1.20 against a global average of 1.35.
It reads in part: “95 out of 100 children born in Malawi survive to age five. In Malawi, a child who starts school at age four can expect to complete 9.6 years of school by her 18th birthday.”
Meanwhile, the bank’s group president David Malpass has urged countries to expand health service coverage and quality among marginalised communities, and support vulnerable families with social protection measures adapted to the scale of Covid-19.
He said: “The pandemic puts at risk the decade’s progress in building human capital, including the improvements in health, survival rates, school enrollment, and reduced stunting.”
During presentation of the 2020/21 fiscal budget, Finance Minister Felix Mlusu admitted that Covid-19 has threatened livelihoods, adding government, with support from development partners, has developed an emergency cash transfer response to cushion pople from Covid-19 socio-economic effects.
He said: “The intervention is expected to target peri-urban areas in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba, covering approximately 172 337 households, each receiving a monthly sum of K35 000. This response is expected to run for six months, starting from June 2020.”
Launched in 2018, the Index measures the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18, but also conveys productivity of the next generation of workers compared to a benchmark of complete education and full health.
According to the report, the improvements are the result of global improvements in health but also of a combination of extension of health coverag and better sanitation, among others.