Granted, Malawi is often beset by wide-ranging governance, administrative and technical inadequacies that trip the country onto the wrong side with donors.
For example, poor donor relations in 2011 due to differences over economic and political governance and social rights, coupled with the inability by the country to implement the IMF supported macroeconomic programme led to the suspension of the ECF and external budget support.
Donors have insisted that continuation of their support to recipient countries will always depend on existence of conditions that bring about value for their tax-payers money.
In contrast, it is also true that aid is now characterised by delays or nonfulfilment of pledges because, as illustrated elsewhere in this article, the donor nations themselves, are also contending with lingering turmoil wrecking madness in their own economies and/or those of their neighbours.
Although they will not admit publicly that their resources are overstretched to meet some of their moral obligations, taking â€˜action speaks louder than wordsâ€™ being a living maxim, poor countries such as Malawi should not be surprised that fulfilment of pledges from donors either delays or do not happen altogether.
It makes sense that one will have to first put out the fires raging in his or her house and then attend to those burning in his proximity before harkening to the tribulations of further places.
But never make a mistake about it. Pride and image are at stake here. To admit explicitly failure to meet commitments would appear to be a moral failure and a crisis of image and public relations.
Therefore, the best that many donors will tell themselves in the face of their own helplessness is, donâ€™t admit it; just default quietly or better still delay while pampering the protective recipient with flowery assurances and overflowing praises.
But sometimes and more recently, admission of inability to help (in the long run) has come implicitly by way of advice.
Britain, one of Malawiâ€™s key donors, says it wants to see Malawi migrating from the current aid dependency to trade.
Up to 40 percent of Malawiâ€™s budget is financed by donor countries, including Britain, through the Balance of Payments support.
The British Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, said his country would help Malawi migrate from the current aid dependency to trade.
Bellingham said his country would like to see trade between Malawi and United Kingdom doubling in three years, from the present Â£60 million (K26.9 billion) to Â£120 million (K54 billion) per annum.
â€œCurrently, our two-way trade is worth Â£58.5 million (K29.5 billion) per annum and the balance of trade is in Malawiâ€™s favour. My ambition is to see that figure doubled, with Malawi gaining more through trade than aid,â€ he said.
Bellingham said his country wants to see British companies investing in Malawi, training people and transferring skills, expertise and technology.
â€˜High inflation, devaluationâ€™
Official data suggests that inflation has now reached 25.5 percent and even higher in the urban areas. Whether one wants to believe the numbers, the fact remains that the cost of living is high.
Â Inflation started soaring before the devaluation as traders often scrambled for forex on parallel markets. Parallel markets offered high rates than people were willing to pay for. The kwacha by then had unofficially depreciated. To recoup profits, imported items bought through parallel markets became expensive fuelling inflation.
The official devaluation and subsequent floatation of the kwacha simply gave more impetus to price surges. The waves of industrial action or strikes are a testimony of the high cost of living. Without any blame game, the average Malawian household must wake up to reality and readjust how they spend money in such an environment. We can only hope that the opaque economic recovery plan will bear any edible fruits. Here are few ideas.
If you look closely at the inflation basket, food constitutes the highest expenditure of any household. It is time to now think carefully where you buy your foodstuffs. Is nsima your main source of starch? Why not buy maize instead of hitting the supermarket to buy an already processed bag of maize flour? It would save you a lot of cash in such an environment.
We are all told of eating a healthy meal. Such items as fruits and vegetables do feature highly on our menu or are supposed to. But this does not mean that you should hit a downtown supermarket to buy a head of cabbage, bananas, mangoes or some pumpkin leaf (nkhwani) or tomatoes. The local markets are not for the poor.
â€˜Grow own vegetablesâ€™
If you do not like the congestion of Blantyre or Lilongwe markets why not hit Chazunda, Mitundu or Nanjiri local markets? The vegetables there are fresh, cheaper and of better quality than those displayed in supermarkets. After all, they grow in the same soil. Why pay more?
Some ways to stay healthy is to choose right habits. If you canâ€™t find time for the gym or any sport, it is time you considered gardening. Especially if you have some space at the back of your own house.
Why not grow some vegetables. It needs not be a task of the maid, but something you can really enjoy doing by yourself. After all, an average person in this country has done some serious farming at different stages in their life.
You will realise that you do not need to buy vegetables. You can even grow all those fancy exotic vegetables you find at shelves of supermarkets that cost a fortune at your backyard. It is worth trying. Not only does it save you a penny, but also keeps you fit as you weed and water the plants. Who does not love a green environment after all?
Now the hard part, and costly. Alcohol. If you drink five beers everyday consider how much you spend at the end of the year. It is half a million kwacha. And if you earn K50 000 a month, it means that you spend of 75 percent of your income on alcohol. Is it really worth it? Worse still consider the associated costs of alcohol.
â€˜Cut the costâ€™
If you have to do pub-hoping, typical of most folks in town, consider the cost of fuel that is now over K500 a litre. Alcohol consumption has been associated with many health problems that will generate a lot of health costs, often unavoidable but difficult to cure in the long run. Alcohol-related accidents and diseases such as gout, liver inflammation and kidney failure.
All these will add onto your health costs and the current environment is pretty tough. Your health insurance will not always be there. At sometime point you will have to queue at a public hospital that is in short supply of essential drugs. I am not trying to stop anyone enjoying their favourite alcoholic drink but to consider moderation as well as the associated costs amid the current economic turmoil.
We, human beings, like fun and to be entertained. After all, life is too short or whatever you decide to call it. We love watching movies, socialise with friends and sports. Similarly, we live in environments that are not a vacuum, but rather vibrant. Sometimes we succumb to social pressures or to simply conform to the norms of the day.
Everyone wants to have cable or satellite TV but it does not help matters to simply pay subscription for channels you do not need. It does not help matters to blame Multi-choice Malawi for charging in foreign currency equivalent.
They are in business but also offer you options for their services. Think of which TV channels you really love to watch. It could be a few movie channels, some sports and childrenâ€™s channels.
You donâ€™t need the whole lot. It is a waste of money. It is pointless to brag about having a full bouquet to friends whose source of income you have no idea. It can save you some money as inflation continues to harshly bite.
â€˜Stop impulse buyingâ€™
The power of impulse buying. Often, we find ourselves in supermarket, electronic store or some other outlets. Just because we see something interesting and appealing we tend to buy it. Have a shopping list and stick to it.
No one will take you to court if you refuse to buy an item that is marketed by a beautifully clad shop attendant. It is your money and be in control. One will need to have complete control of their money and stick to it. The thing about money is that if you cannot control it, often it returns the favour albeit in a harsh way.
You do not need a new cellphone whenever Apple, Samsung or Nokia launch product. High tech products such as mobile phones and laptop computers are only expensive at the launch period. Wait for some time and they cost less.
Â Similarly, you do not need five bank accounts with five different banks. While your wallet will boast of five ATM cards. In fact, you are paying more in bank charges than your friend who has a single bank account. You are also losing out on interest received as your money is spread in small amounts in five accounts.
I believe each one has their own personal responsibility to manage their finances, stay out of debt amid high inflation worsened by devaluation. Please shop around for anything to get the best deal and value for money. We donâ€™t know when the â€œeconomic recovery planâ€ by government will bring manna.