Stories written by Pilirani Semu-Banda

POLITICS-MALAWI: Poverty Uppermost in Voters’ Minds

When Malawians go to vote on May 19, they are expected to put their cross next to the party they believe will do most to reduce poverty. Political campaigns in the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections have centred around poverty, agriculture, food security and employment.

Some of the traditional leaders that decide who is poorer than who. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda

MALAWI: Separating the ‘‘Ultra-Poor’’ from the Poor – Why?

A group of civil society organisations in Malawi is pushing for changes to the country’s controversial social cash transfer scheme which has caused tension in communities as it attempts to separate the poor from the ‘‘very poor’’ in a country where some 65 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day.

HEALTH-MALAWI: Women’s Group Sues Govt Over Abortion Rights

An influential women rights organisation in Malawi, Women in Law in Southern Africa-Malawi (WILSA-Malawi), is suing the government of Malawi for preventing women from accessing safe abortion.

Women line up to have their children tested for TB at a district hospital in Mchinji, Malawi. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

MALAWI: Bringing TB Testing and Treatment To Those Who Need It

Malawi does not have accurate statistics that define the extent of tuberculosis (TB) cases within its borders, and there are fears that only half of those infected with the disease are able to access testing and treatment.

Irrigation and cooperative farming have improved the livelihoods for the Ngolowindo Horticultural Cooperative Society Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

AGRICULTURE-MALAWI: Water Makes the Difference

Water has become the very essence of economic development for a rural community of Ngolowindo, in Malawi’s lake district of Salima, where households are reducing poverty thanks to irrigation.

Dancers at a political event -- women are gradually taking a seat at the high table. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

POLITICS: Malawi’s Women Challenge For Top Posts

Sitting side by side, clothed in bright traditional outfits complete with headgear, they looked like any of the women who always dance and ululate for politicians at rallies.

Beneficiaries of Malawi's cash transfer scheme are nominated by local community leaders based on need. Credit:  Mick Yates

POVERTY: Cash Transfers Transform Lives of Malawi’s Poor

Malawi has taken major strides towards reducing poverty and hunger in the country. Government’s cash transfer scheme has managed to reach many of those usually unable to access grants due to lengthy and complicated bureaucratic processes and assessments.

Authorities have set up tents to treat cholera victims in Lilongwe Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda

HEALTH-MALAWI: Rains Expose Poor Sanitation

Zimbabwe - where cholera has claimed more than 2,700 lives so far according to the Red Cross - is not the only southern African country facing increased disease as rains set in across the region. Malawi is also battling a cholera outbreak which has killed 19 people since the onset of the rainy season, an unusually high death toll.

Adaptation to climate change along the Zambezi is hampered by a lack of resources. Credit:  David Gough/IRIN

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Climate Change Threatens Livelihoods

Climate change will affect the Zambezi River basin more severely than any other river system in the world, according to Kenneth Msibi, Water Policy and Strategy Expert for the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Increased floods, drought and increased levels of disease threaten lives and livelihoods all along the river’s length.

Better management needed: Manuel Fanso was one of 300,000 Mozambicans displaced by flooding in 2008. Credit:  Tomas de Mul/IRIN


If the socio-economic development goals of the eight countries that share the Zambezi River basin are to be met, countries along the river should quickly implement plans towards managing water resources in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner.

Lilian Patel: Male politicians fail to protect women. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

POLITICS-MALAWI: Elections Get Ugly For Women

Malawi’s primary elections are getting ugly for women candidates. Shoving, derogatory songs and being pelted with stones are just some of the intimidating tactics aimed at discouraging women from contesting the primary elections that will select candidates for the parliamentary polls in May 2009.

POLITICS-MALAWI: New Efforts for Citizen Power

Civil society organisations in Malawi are keen on the newly introduced Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF) which, they hope, will provide people with more power to ensure that there is proper governance and transparency in the country.

 Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

Q&A: Fistula Turns Women Into Outcasts

Women suffering from obstetric fistula in Malawi received free medical care to reverse their condition during the country’s Fistula Week.

Msiska says her first priority will be to bring water to her rural constituency. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda

POLITICS-MALAWI: The Bold and the Beautiful

The reigning Miss Malawi, Peth Msiska, has hit the campaign trail, not seeking another crown but to be voted into Parliament in her country’s general elections in May 2009.

Mary Phombeya's import business is booming. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

TRADE-MALAWI: The ABC of Being a Successful Business Woman

Through hard work and resilience, Malawian entrepreneur Mary Phombeya has developed her once small and struggling business outfit into a fully fledged company. She imports fashionable clothes – for women, children and men – from Dubai, Thailand and Hong Kong which she sells locally.

Little medical care is available to pregnant women in Malawi, raising rates of maternal mortality and other complications. Credit:  IRIN

HEALTH-MALAWI: Help for Women with Obstetric Fistula

A group of 138 unhappy and mostly destitute women from Malawi’s lake district of Mangochi have something to look forward to this week: They will have a chance to restore their dignity and pride by accessing a medical service usually not available to them.

Irrigation has greatly increased food production by farmers like Masuzgo Jere. Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

DEVELOPMENT-MALAWI: Irrigation Promises to Increase Food Security

Wyson Chandanga, a small-holder Malawian farmer from the northern district of Mzimba, does not care if the country receives enough rain this year. He is also not concerned on whether the rains come on time or not.

Malawian Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe Credit:  Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

TRADE: Malawi Still Hopeful That Investment Will Come

Malawi is on the prowl to extend its trade connections to different corners of the world, west and east. The small southern African country is hoping foreign investment will help it to become a producer and exporter rather than a consumer and importer economy, as is presently the case.

Water shortages have crippled a state of the art hospital in Chiradzulu. Credit: Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

HEALTH-MALAWI: Water Woes in Model Hospital

Gladys Mawera's face is contorted with pain -– both she and her newborn baby survived a complicated birth three days ago - but she has not been able to take the painkillers and antibiotics prescribed to her by the medical personnel at the Chiradzulu District Hospital in southern Malawi. The hospital has been without water for five days.

TRADE: NGO Keeping An Eye on Malawi’s New Best Friend, China

China continues to grow its presence in Africa, having just roped in the small southern African country of Malawi as another one of many trading partners on the continent. But some Malawians have adopted a cautious attitude towards their government’s new ally.

TRADE-MALAWI: Aid Will Not Be Conditional Upon Signing of EPAs

The European Commission (EC) has assured Malawi that the country will continue receiving cooperation aid even if it does not sign an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union.

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