Data from the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (Unctad) indicates that 71 percent of Malawians are living in extreme poverty despite increased public spending on health and education, which are Malawi’s priority areas.
Topping the list of countries with extreme poverty is Madagascar at 82 percent, Burundi at 78 percent, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 77 per cent and in Malawi 71 percent
According to the report, Development and Globalisation Facts and Figures, Malawi’s poverty levels are high in rural areas with a headcount ratio of 58 percent while in the urban areas, poverty headcount ratio stood at roughly about 20 percent.
Headcount refers to the proportion of the population that lives below t he poverty line, defined by the World Bank as cases where a person lives on $1.90 (around K1 300) per day.
The findings collarets with the findings of the United Nations Development Programme 2016 Human Development index which showed that Malawi continued to lag behind on human development, ranking 170 out of 188 from the previous year’s position 171, thereby missing out on the global development priorities.
On the other hand, the second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) review found that Malawi failed to reduce poverty and worsened deprivation in urban areas with the urban poverty which between 2010 and 2013 surged 8.3 percent from 17.9 percent to 26.2 percent.
On the other hand, rural poverty may have marginally improved over the period from 44 percent in 2011 to 40.9 in 2013.
“Despite the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there remains more work to be done. We have seen how war, famine or natural disasters can undermine or undo years of progress almost overnight.
For this reason, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) renew our resolve to combat global poverty and ensure inclusive prosperity, but also strengthen our determination to tackle climate change and environmental degradation,” said Unctad secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi.
In an interview last week, Economic Empowerment Action Group (Eeag) president Lewis Chiwalo said there is more that needs to be done if poverty is to be alleviated in the country.
“We need to have a pro poor kind of budgeting which should also focus much on poverty reduction and a relatively reduced domestic borrowing in order to bring the inflation down which will effectively result into reduction in lending rates,” he said.
In May, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’ African Social Development Index (ASDI) report revealed that Malawi and the rest of Africa are getting poor than two decades ago fuelled by inequality.