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Re: Malawi

Dr. George Phiri FAO Malawi, Malawi
10.04.2014
George

Esteemed Colleagues,

My personal view is that so far since independence, the largely agrarian economy of Malawi has oscillated in circles within the "Wotsalira" scenario, and to quote Emma Gausi's posting, will likely remain so over the next 50 years if past and present lessons do not inform the future.

It amazes me when I peep into the mixed bag of instruments the country has (legislation, policies, strategies, institutions, seemless human and natural resources) that should transorm the country towards the "Mkaka ndi Uchi" scenario. For strange reasons, we have nearly always gravitated towards the "Mbombo" as only the lives of the people who govern improve and not the governed. All the three past presidents have left office via democratic political processes or other causes filthy rich while the governed are left poorer. The present leadership does not even have the courage to declare its assets giving space to further dubious amassing of wealth spiced by cashgate, jetgate, mortuarygate, cowgate, maize distributiongate (continued distribution of relief maize at the time people are harvest maize from their own gardens) and other scandals.

And the governed - increasingly vulnerable, exacerbated by the ravages of the negative impacts of climate change. In 2012/2013, the country's flagship programme for the ultra-vulnerable, the corruption-riddled Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) targeted 1.6 million beneficiaries. A vulnerability assessment towards the end of 2013 assessed 2 million Malawians as starving (FISP beneficiaries included).

A new and revolutionary approach is require to replace the present business-as-usual approach. First and foremost, we must replace the present pseudo-political will, review and reform institutions policies, laws and development strategies, set priorities upright (not upside-down as it is today), promote nation-wide sustainable land and water management, replace biomass energy with efficient and renewable sources, and transform peasant and subsistent agriculture to commercial and value-chain based agriculture, develop efficient markets. This will only be the first step from "Wotsalira" to "Mkaka ndi Uchi" highway.