Urban poverty on the rise in Malawi, says CSC report

Latest report by the  Center for Social Concern (CSC) is indicating that poverty levels continue worsening among Malawi’s urban dwellers with most of them failing to access basic necessities despite government’s claims that its economic recovery plan has started bearing fruits.

CSC is a faith-based organization registered in Malawi which seeks to ensure that every person has equitable access to resources and opportunities to lead a life of dignity, in solidarity with others, while preserving the environment.

Finance Minister Ken Lipenga said in a media statement last week that the government is doing all it can to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of  economic challenges facing Malawians.

Without giving practical examples, Lipenga said the recent approval of the first review of implementation of the recovery programme by the IMF Board clearly demonstrates the successful implementation of the recovery programme.

Lipenga: Malawi on course in the recovery

But the CSC study carried out last December says low income earners in urban areas are finding it difficult to access to necessities such as electricity due to expensive tariffs charged by the country’s sole electricity provider, Electricity Corporation of Malawi (Escom).

According to the study, even access to safe water is becoming a problem to most families in these residential areas.

It says on average, the total cost of basic food items and non basic food items for all cities for December was at K84, 463 signifying a nominal increase of K4, 949 compared to the November average which was at K79, 514.

“In Lilongwe an average low income earning family of six saw its expenditure on basic food items and non essential food items going up from K88, 737 in November  to K91, 632 in December last year,” reads the report in part.

It also says the price of country’s staple food; maize went up by 20% in Lilongwe, 14% in   Zomba, 12 % in Blantyre while in Mzuzu was raised by 47%.

The report is urging the current government authorities to build and sustain a healthy economy that provides employment opportunities to many Malawians as a way of arresting the problem.

Prices of various goods and services became unstable on the local market following the introduction of the automatic system of regulating fuel prices and the floatation of Malawi Kwacha by the President Joyce Banda government.

The problem has not spared those in rural areas either as they are now being forced to cough more in order to buy basic commodities such as soap, salt, sugar and Paraffin.

Meanwhile, economists are blaming the rising cost of living on what they call poor economic policies pursued by the current government which are believed to have aggravated the suffering of many Malawians.

However, the CSC report is projecting that the trend will only be reversed once the country’s much touted economic recovery plan starts bearing real fruits.

The vindicates plans by the Consumers Association of Malawi to hold a nation-wide demonstrations on January 17 against the souring cost of living which has been exacerbated by the floatation of Malawi kwacha.

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