Urban poverty is one of the challenges that the Joyce Banda administration is committed to address as it embarks on a multi-dimensional programme of fighting deprivation and creating wealth for the people.
This kind of poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon. It means the urban poor live with many deprivations.
Their daily challenges may include: limited access to employment opportunities and income, inadequate and insecure housing and services, violent and unhealthy environments, little or no social protection mechanisms, and limited access to adequate health and education opportunities.
One of the ways that President Joyce Banda has put in place to eradicate this kind of poverty is by establishing the Mudzi Transformation Trust.
Under this initiative, her administration is fighting poverty through provision of infrastructural development and basic social amenities at village or community level. At least about 20, 000 villages stand to benefit from the initiative.
So far, more than 20 villages have already had their share. Many more continue to be identified through assessment of their needs.
On Saturday, President Joyce Banda paid a surprise visit to Mayi Nyaude of Makhetha slums on the edges of the city of Blantyre to see for herself the kind of challenges she is going through.
As the President was to discover, the story of Mayi Nyaude represents the tale of the problems that urban dwellers, like their counterparts in the rural areas, are facing.
What Mayi Nyaude calls a house is what even the United Nations calls a shack. It is a collapsing single-roomed structure, with cracks that widen every day, and lizards share the abode their play ground as well.
That is the case with other structures around the area. They have poor structural quality and durability; they have insufficient living area (more than three people sharing a room); they lack of secure tenure; they have poor access to water and they lack of sanitation facilities.
After inspecting the shack, President Joyce Banda has directed that Mayi Nyaude and her family should be relocated a proper house, pending construction of a completely new structure where the condemned one now stands.
“This is unacceptable. We must work hard to change this,” said President Banda as she issued instructions to the Joyce Banda Foundation (JBF) officials to facilitate the identification of the proper house and constructions works of the new house.
Mayi Nyaude’s predicament was identified as follows. Rita, Mayi Nyaude’s granddaughter, is a beneficiary of a JBF scholarship. During one of the school holidays, President Banda invited the 11-year-old girl to spend a few days at the Sanjika Presidential Palace.
As they chatted one day, Rita opened up to the President, narrating the problems her grand-mother was facing, including the dilapidated hut in which she lived.
At once, the President acted. She sent officials to assess the extent of the problems in the life of Mayi Nyaude.
They returned with depressing stories. Some were illustrated by the pictures they brought. This is what prompted the President to physically confirm the stories herself.
“What I have seen today confirms the extent of poverty in Malawi. And this poverty is not just in rural areas, but even among urban dwellers.
“This is the reason I will make it a point to physically visit the people personally and not just rely on reports, because more often the reports don’t tell the truth,” said President Banda.
Mayi Nyaude and Rita commended the President for her gesture of compassion, saying she should extend it to others. According to the United Nations, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent in the developing world between 1990 and 2005.
However, due to rising population, and the rise especially in urban populations, the number of slum dwellers is rising. One billion people worldwide live in slums and the figure is projected to grow to 2 billion by 2030.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :