The United States (US) Government says it has frozen $5.2 million (about K3.8 billion), or 1.97 percent of the total development aid disbursement to Malawi, pending a review of its State agencies’ accounts.
This follows the US administration order on August 3 for its State agencies—the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAid)—to withhold all unobligated (allocated but not yet spent) funds until they submit an accounting report to the Office of Management and Budget.
US Embassy public affairs officer Douglas Johnston confirmed in a written response to our questionnaire yesterday that the freeze, which is expected to affect multiple spending categories including development assistance, will extend to US-funded projects in Malawi.
He said: “For Malawi, this order means that $5.2 million of the [US Government’s] $264.4 million total fiscal year 2018 appropriation for development assistance, is now frozen pending further review.”
The figure is lower than the $15.8 million (about K11.7 billion) projected in our news report yesterday.
Johnston, however, stressed that the freeze affects US funding throughout the world and is not associated with Malawi’s ongoing electoral review process.
US President Donald Trump has recently sought to re-orient Washington’s funding priorities. The State Department in July cut funding to Central American countries, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, fulfilling a promise Trump made earlier in March.
USAid is one of Malawi’s prominent donors in the health sector. The agency in January approved a $12 million fund (about K8.9 billion) to combat cervical cancer in Malawi and Zambia. USAid is also collaborating with government in the Secondary Education Expansion for Development (Seed), a programme designed to accommodate female students who graduate from primary school but are unable to continue with secondary education due to lack of space.