The Malawi Government and the European Union (EU) have signed a 115 million euro (about K139 billion) multi-annual indicative programme financing for gender responsive social protection, economic governance for investment, the green heart of Africa and scaling up home grown school feeding programmes.
Speaking during the ceremony in Lilongwe on Friday, EU Ambassador Rune Skinnebach said the comprehensive package focuses on two crucial aspects namely economic transformation and social protection, which are top priorities in addressing the social and economic challenges which Malawi is facing.
He said: “We are all well aware of the increasingly complex challenges that the country has been confronting in recent years following catastrophic weather events, outbreaks of diseases and the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which have affected the cost of essential imports.”
Skinnebach added that such factors have worsened several critical indicators such as sluggish economic growth, soaring inflation, unsustainable debt levels, a widening fiscal deficit and misaligned exchange rates which require urgent action.
Banda and Skinnebach during the signing ceremony
Explained the envoy: “In line with the Malawi 2063, these measures proposes a gender responsive social protection programme and a home grown schools meals programme targeting mainly women and girls in rural households living in poverty by increasing their chances at leading healthy and productive lives.
“These social safety net programmes not only shield the vulnerable from external shocks, but also enhance their value as human capital in a more diversified economy. The school meals programme coupled with an ecotourism project will allow diversifying the income sources for the rural population.”
Minister of Finance Simplex Chithyola Banda, who signed the agreement on behalf of government, warned implementing partners of the programmes against misuse of the resources.
He implored them to be submitting periodic reports directly to his office.
Said Banda: “Government will not allow misuse of these resources so for the implementing partners of the four programmes take note and please be prudent and transparent. I will need reports of how these programmes are being implanted in my office.”
The minister also thanked EU for teaming up with Germany to support the fight against corruption and strengthen the management of public finances as well as joining forces with Ireland to empower girls and women and enhance communities’ resilience.
He also appealed to the development partners to consider resuming their direct budgetary support to Malawi, to which Skinnebach said that would depend on Malawi fulfilling the conditions for qualifying for the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF), which would bring back donor confidence.