LAKE CHILWA, Malawi
Fisherfolk and farmers living near Malawi’s second-largest water body, Lake Chilwa, are relocating en masse and scrambling for space around its shores as the lake has dried to dangerously low levels.
The move in Malawi to close down Chinese businesses outside of the four major cities has been condemned as xenophobic by rights organisations. A new law enforced Jul. 31 barred foreigners from carrying out trade in Malawi’s outlying and rural areas.
Small and large businesses in Malawi are counting their losses following the cabinet’s decision not to host the African Union summit in July.
On-again, off-again… it's the story of both Malawi's power supply and the interconnection project that could end blackouts with power imported from neighbouring Mozambique.
As she sits down to watch the 8pm news on TV, Mercy Kamphoni from Chamtulo Village in Malawi’s Mangochi lake district looks elated. She still cannot believe that she is the new proud owner of a television set, refrigerator and radio.
As Malawi’s poor struggle to afford food and other staple items since the 48 percent devaluation of the local currency against the dollar, economic commentators are optimistic that the move will provide an opportunity to boost the country’s export market.
She has been in office for less than a week but Malawi’s, and the region’s, first female president, Joyce Banda, has given many people in this poor southern African country hope that its social and economic woes will soon end.
It would be too simplistic to think that Malawi’s problems have ended with the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. But it is an opportunity for newly appointed President Joyce Banda, who is also leader of the opposition People’s Party, to step up and offer a new and more responsive style of leadership.
They survived floods and witnessed the horrific scenes of their houses, livestock, household items and gardens being swept away at the end of January. Now, the people of the Nsanje and Chikhwawa districts on Malawi’s southern border with Mozambique are facing another menace; a cholera outbreak, which has already killed one child and infected up to 103 people.
The black market for foreign exchange and fuel is booming in the midst of an acute scarcity in Malawi. The shortage is so severe that even the Consumer Association of Malawi, an influential consumer rights body, has come out in support of the black market.
A campaign to stop people buying merchandise from street vendors is gaining momentum in Malawi’s main cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu after the small-scale traders went on a rampage undressing women and girls wearing trousers, leggings, shorts and mini-skirts.
Malawi is experiencing a drug shortage as the country's international donors remain reluctant to release aid meant for the health sector.
"The future for least developed countries lies in trade, productive capacity and governance more than in aid," said Cheick Sidi Diarra, United Nations High representative for the Least Developed Countries, responding to criticism of the plan of action put forward as the U.N. conference on the world's poorest nations drew to a close in Istanbul.
The dominant approaches to development have failed the world’s poorest citizens and now the paradigm must change. This is the strong message coming from over 2,000 non-governmental organisations gathered at the civil society forum for the Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) in Istanbul, Turkey.
Malawi's gross domestic product has grown by more than six percent in each year since 2005. The country's most recent Welfare Monitoring Survey finds unemployment stands at just one percent. At a glance, Malawi makes being a landlocked, least developed country almost desirable.