Extreme poverty in Malawi
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In a population of nearly 15 million, the United Nations estimates that Malawi’s HIV prevalence rate is 12%. There are 550,000 AIDS orphans and more than 930,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi. The average life expectancy is 53, compared to 79 in the United States.
Malawi also suffers from chronic poverty and frequent food insecurity. More than 90% of those most affected by extreme poverty live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming for their daily livelihoods. The Human Development Index ranks Malawi in the bottom 10% of all countries in the world. Almost half of Malawi’s population struggle to live on less than US $1 a day.
Border communities are typically most susceptible to risk behaviors associated with HIV infection as in the case of southern Malawi. However, this remote area also lacks services and access to treatment for those most infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Our work Southern Africa
As our work grows throughout Africa, Medical Teams International identified Malawi as a country of priority need for future programming and we’ve expanded our work to this new area with a focus on HIV and AIDS, water, hygiene and sanitation.
In 2011 and 2012, Medical Teams International supported a small HIV and AIDS program with our partner, River of Life Evangelical Church (ROLEC). The project was based in Nsanje District, at the southern most tip of Malawi, and quite near our HIV & AIDS project across the border in Sena, Mozambique. The people of Nsanje District are culturally and ethnically similar to those in our project area of Mozambique (the Sena people are the majority ethnic group), and our familiarity with the area puts us in a unique position to help our partner grow in their work in Nsanje District. As in Mozambique, the Sena strongly value birth and death cleansing rituals as well as widow inheritance and polygamy, all of which contribute to HIV risk behavior and the higest rates of HIV infection in Malawi. The project focused on providing community based care and support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and improving the quality Home Based Care (HBC) activities for People Living with HIV & AIDS (PLWHA) in the Nsanje District communities.
Plans for 2012-2013
Families in Ndamera TA of Nsanje District have limited access to adequate and safe drinking water due to non-functioning bore holes and people suffer from preventable diseases such as dysentery due to poor sanitation and hygiene practices. In particular, households impacted by HIV and AIDS are highly vulnerable to disease and illness. In partnership with ROLEC, Medical Teams International is working to reduce the prevalence of water and sanitation related diseases by rehabilitating 5 boreholes, building 2 model toilets at 2 schools and educating school children and their families in good hygiene and sanitation practices. Objectives of the project are to increase access to and use of safe water for 3000 vulnerable people and their households and to improve capacity of communities to manage water, hygiene and sanitation facilities through education and training of village health workers and village development committees. The project will benefit 15,000 people including orphans and vulnerable children, the elderly, and people living with HIV and AIDS in Ndamera TA.
River of Life Evangelical Church is a local Malawian church based in Blantyre, equiping communities and building capacity in a sustainable way. Its Relief and Development department works to transform communities through holistic programs including church mobilization, education initiatives, HIV and AIDS programs and OVC care, water and sanitation and disaster risk reduction.
Please donate or volunteer to help save lives in Malawi.