With just days to go until the UK election, people here in Malawi are hoping British voters will look beyond their borders and support bold action on international development on May 6, writes Progressio's
We are still the poorest nation in Africa. Over recent years, we have seen how decisions taken in Whitehall directly affect the education of our children, the health of our families and the long-term progress of our country.
The UK, by far our largest donor, is spending £70 million in Malawi each year. The results are palpable. Direct support for our agricultural programme, including subsidies for many of the country’s 11.5 million small-scale farmers, raised our maize harvest dramatically in 2008/9 helping us achieve food security for the last four years. We have more doctors and nurses; education has improved in certain areas; crime and corruption are slowly coming down while life expectancy is gradually edging up.
But there is still a vast amount to do. Nearly 40% of Malawians continue to live below the poverty line, two thirds of the female population are illiterate and 930,000 Malawians face a future living with HIV and AIDS. While we are making great strides ourselves, the UK remains a vital lifeline for thousands of our people as they seek to gain power over their own lives and overcome barriers that keep them poor.
Whichever political party triumphs in the polls will have its work cut out – not just here, but in many corners of the developing world from Somalia to Yemen and Haiti to Zimbabwe. And, as the world strives to meet the Millennium Development Goals to halve global poverty in just five years’ time, the UK’s leadership will be crucial.
In Malawi, we have shown how international development assistance, if used in the right way to tackle the root causes of poverty, can help set a country on the path to a better future.
Lloyd Simwaka is Progressio's Country Manager for Malawi
This post first appeared on VoteGlobal