Poverty is defined as the state of being poor. This is the state of having little or no money and few or no materials possessions.

But why and how is Malawi poor? Are Malawians themselves poor or it is the country which is poor? Well, I guess both of these arguments are right. Both Malawi and Malawians are poor.

Of course, the question ‘why is Malawi poor?’ cannot be met with one definitive answer. There is a multitude of reasons for extreme deprivation in Malawi, some being more significant than others.

Child collecting water in Malawi
Child collecting water in Malawi Photo by Daniel Mtombosola on Unsplash

Agriculture and Climate
To begin with, Malawi’s economic productivity relies heavily on agriculture, with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture is very reliant on the weather conditions, with climate change the climate in Malawi has been anything but satisfactory. To make matters worse, the exposure of the dangers of tobacco to your health in the developed western countries and subsequent decrease in usage has seen Malawi’s leading crop become less and less lucrative.

So due to weather changes and subsequent natural disasters; droughts and flooding, agriculture is no longer supporting the economy as it needs to. As a result, instead of producing more helping to boost the economy of Malawi, the economy is declining leading to increased poverty in Malawi.

Corruption
Like any other nation gripped by poverty, much of the blame lies with the government. Corruption in Malawi is rife, exacerbating economic issues and poverty, and the people suffer as a result. The 2014 Malawi ‘cash gate’ scandal is a good example of corruption in Malawi.

The ‘Cash Gate’ scandal was initiated when a government clerk was found driving with what equates to $300,000 in his car. Once this was investigated, it came to light that Malawi had lost $32 million, nearly 1 percent of Malawi’s annual GDP due to government carelessness – an enormous amount of money on any standard.

Disease, HIVAIDS
Going further, diseases are a major problem for the people of Malawi. For instance, when a family member gets sick, the rest of the family have to sell belongings, withdrawal school payments and cut back on daily food consumption to support the sick members of the family. It is noted that approximately 11.9 percent, about 2.1 million Malawians have HIV/AIDS.

With this, will these infected be able to participate in developing Malawi? Will they be able to work or farm? Very unlikely because once they are infected, his or her body is weak, they can no longer work under pressure or hard labour therefore they are unable to be productive, therefore those with HIVAIDS are no longer able to pursue a productive lifestyle and support the escape from poverty.

Compounding the individuals lack of ability to contribute to the economy, medical payments become the responsibility of the patient’s family, requiring them to sacrifice education, nutrition and personal belongings. Diseases causes substantial impoverishment.

Conclusion
So, why is Malawi poor? Malawi is poor through no fault of the people. Stricken with disease, plagued by droughts and floods, doomed through geographical location and cheated by corrupt officials, Malawi has been given no opportunity to flourish and no chance to thrive. Hope cannot be lost, but help is desperately needed.

Regina Maere

I was born in Mangochi and educated in Dedza at Umbwi Secondary School, Following Secondary School I attended The Institute of Journalism, Lilongwe. Inspired by great writers, with a passion for writing it is my ambition to inspire others too through writing.