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There are many causes of poverty in Malawi, the land of milk and honey. Many Malawians are prisoned in the chains of poverty and suffering.
And many people wonder why Malawi is a developing country despite that it has numerous natural resources. Historically, Malawi is known as a peaceful and stable country as such it is normal to expect the country to be developed.
However, the reality is that Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world.
Many experts agree that Malawi has failed to make tangible economic strides from the time it gained independence in 1964.
Other goes on saying that Malawi is now poorer than it was some decades ago. And the causes of poverty in Malawi are attributed to both natural and human forces.
Natural causes of poverty in Malawi include floods and unreliable rainfall patterns that lead to low harvest. Some parts of the country are prone to floods. Natural disasters such as floods cause poor harvest and hunger in the country.
There are many solutions to end poverty in Malawi which requires political will to implement them. Without the political will to implement viable solutions, Malawi will continue to be a developing country.
This post highlights some of the developmental challenges that cause poverty in Malawi.
High dependence on rain-fed agriculture
Malawi economy is agri-based. Agriculture contributes to about 80% of the country’s GDP. However, the majority of farmers in Malawi are subsistence rural farmers. Levels of mechanization in the country are too low.
As a result, the annual yield for many crops is lower than the market demand. Apart from lack of mechanization or commercialization agriculture farming in Malawi narrowly concentrates on few crops, tobacco, tea and sugar cane.
Tobacco is the major forex earner but with the current decrease in tobacco price the revenue generated from tobacco sales is decreasing.
Malawi needs to diversify in agriculture if it is to achieve economic success in the agriculture sector.
Lack of reliable energy sources
Malawians depend on hydroelectricity which ESCOM provides. However, the amount of electricity the state-owned power company generates is below the required amount of energy.
It is only about 10% of the population who are connected to the national power grid. But with there are frequent blackouts on daily basis. Households connected to the national grid experiences electricity blackouts of about 5 hours every day.
And the unreliable source of energy is costing a lot on businesses and individuals.
Lack of energy initiatives causes the shortage of power to be a huge economic burden.
Poor road networks
The other reason why Malawi is underdeveloped is due to inadequate access to road networks. There are many areas in Malawi that have poor roads which inaccessible during most times of the year.
Such poor roads make it difficult for people to take their produce like agriculture products to nearby markets.
As a result, such goods are sold cheaply or they simply rot on the gardens. There are inadequate roads connecting cities to rural areas.
Inadequate ICT facilities
ICT is the driving force of modern economies. However, Malawi has inadequate investment in ICT infrastructure. As a result ICT services are highly priced which means the majority of Malawians cannot afford them.
For instance, internet charges are very high while at the same time internet speed is very slow. Due to this many people cannot afford to access information.
Lack of ICT facilities also makes Malawians fail to make most of the online transactions through popular and cheaper online payment gateways such as PayPal.
High population growth
Malawi is a developing country because in part due to its increases population growth. With high women fertility of an average of six children per woman, Malawi’s population is increasing at alarming rates. Many families produce more children than they can afford to take care.
As a result of having more children, many families fail to feed and educate their families. The drastic increase in population also creates competition of the limited resources that are available such as land for housing and farming.
The poor environment for doing business
One of the causes of poverty in Malawi is the poor environment for doing business. The environment for doing business in Malawi still remains harsh for many businesses, small and large.
Access to credit or loans is tough. Interest rates and tax are exorbitant for many business people, especially small-scale businesses.
While Malawi has made some improvements in recent years the environment for doing business in Malawi is unfriendly.
Registering of property, for instance, still remains a big issue so is trading across borders.
High levels of illiteracy
A high percentage of the Malawi population comprises of illiterate people. People who cannot read nor can they write. It is hard for people without the proper education to have access to useful information.
High illiteracy also means people lack financial literacy which would help them run businesses successfully. The Malawian school curriculum does not teach financial literacy. Hence, more people including the educated persons have limited knowledge on doing business and entrepreneurship.
Despite the introduction of free primary education in government schools, there are many Malawians who do not finish their primary and secondary education.
Corruption is one of the major causes of poverty in Malawi. Acts of corruption have spread like cancer, they are everywhere. Efficiency in both public and private sector is compromised because of corruption.
Resources allocated to uplift economic and social status of the poor are abused. The resources such as donor aid rarely reach the target beneficiaries.
The fight against corruption still remains a dream come true for Malawi.
9. Youth Unemploynent
Uneployment is very high in Malawi. More than half unemployed people in Malawi are productive youths below the age of 4o years. This means many youth people stay idle during their productive years. The resulting consequence is that instead of contributing positively to the growth of the economy they become a burden.