Least developed countries increase, Malawi still in there

Malawi is one of the 33 Least Developed Countries (LDC) in Africa which has increased to 49  from 24 in the 1970s.

Factors that have qualified most of the African countries in the category include low income based on gross national income (GNI) per capita (a 3 year average; human assets weakness based on a composite index (the Human Assets Index); and economic vulnerability based on a composite index (the Economic Vulnerability Index).

LDC Watch international coordinator, Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki told a consultation meeting : “On paper many government’s including Malawi have made a commitment that at least half of the LDCs will graduate by end of the year 2020.”

“However, what we need is a continuous monitoring process on progress. Civil society organisations (CSOs) are already doing these issues, only requirement now is the need to link existing programmes within the CSOs with the LDCs to move government commitment,” he said during a CSO consultation meeting  that discussed the Programme of Action for the LDCs for the decade 2011 – 2020.

Partricipants at the meeting convened through the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) and supported by the Zimbabwe-based African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) also expressed whether LDCs still needed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) noting that there was such an increase of LDCs and that since 1971 only 3 countries had graduated.

Bokosi: CSOs must learn to work together

Since the establishment of the LDCs category, only Botswana (1994), Cape Verde (2007) and Samoa (December 2010) graduated. The Maldives is expected to graduate in in January 2011, though neither case is certain.

The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) also recommended in 2009 that Equatorial Guinea be graduated from the list of LDCs.

Executive Director at MEJN, Dalitso Kubalasa, said Malawi should be discussed in the context of all the African LDCs and that there is at least some hope of improvement towards graduation nationally.

“Malawi and most of the LDC countries seem to be on the right track, despite that since 1971, Malawi has still not graduated. There is more need to move together ina  coordinated effort to achieve this. We as a country are know to have brilliant ideas which, unfortunately, we do not implement. Other countries borrow Malawi’s ideas and implement them and shine internationally,” he said.

Dr. Fanwell Bokosi of AFRODAD, however, said there is great need to work towards political will supported by technical input to achieve graduation.

“The problem is that when good ideas come from someone construed to be negative or bad, they are thrown away. I think we need to embrace good ideas no matter who has brought them up and equally throw away bad ideas irrepsective of who is propelling them,” he told the gathering meeting at Crossroads Hotel in the capital, Lilongwe.

CSOs were therefore challenged to use existing structures to advocate for strategies and a common voice that can help see Malawi and opther LDCs move to graduation before the year 2020 as committed.

“CSOs are very essential. When governments make commitments and sometimes misrepresent facts, it is the CSOs that must be in the forefront to check on these wrong presentations towards a common national good. It is time CSOs must learn to work together and push government to live up to the commitment to use the MDGs to meet their 2020 deadline,” added Dr. Bokosi.

The one day meeting drew together CSOs representation from a number of stakeholders including the faith community represented by the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), youth and women activist groups, and the media.

LDC Watch’s major campaign and advocates issues are food sovereignty, climate justice, trade, overseas development assistance (ODA), energy poverty, gender justice, and total and unconditional cancellation of LDC debt.

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