Malawi, World Bank signs MK33.5 bn MASAF 4, skills development projects

Government through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, World Bank on Wednesday signed an agreement of US$83.7 million approximately K33.5 billion meant for the implementation of Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF IV) and the Skills Development Projects.

Speaking during the signing ceremony at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Goodall Gondwe said he was grateful for the financial support which will see K20 billion for the implementation of the Skills Development Projects and a whooping of about K 13 billion for MASAF IV social safety nets projects respectively.

“Of this amount, US$ 50.9 million approximately to MK20 billion is for the implementation of the Skills Development project and the other US$ 32.8 million approximately MK13 billion is earmarked for the MASAF IV – strengthening safety nets systems project,” said Gondwe.

Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Ms. Kullenberg, World Bank Country Manager, during the Financing Agreements in LL. - Pic: Abel Ikiloni
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Ms. Kullenberg, World Bank Country Manager, during the Financing Agreements in LL. – Pic: Abel Ikiloni

He said out of US$50.9 million, US$46 million is a loan facility while US$ 4.9 million has been provided as a grant.
The project will among other things increase access to education at tertiary level, market relevance, and results orientation of supported skills development institutions in their priority areas.

Gondwe said the institutions to benefit from the project include the Malawi Polytechnic, Mzuzu University (MZUNI), Chancellor College (CHANCO), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and Technical Entrepreneurial and the Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA).

“Some activities to be carried out in the project at these institutions shall include Open Distance Learning (ODL) for secondary school teachers, increase access to science teacher education and enhance capacity for science education delivery, increase access, market relevance and gender responsiveness of programs, improve capacity for quality assurance in the TEVET system and assist in increasing enrolment of students for mining engineering, metallurgy, mineral processing and geological processing courses at Malawi Polytechnic,” said Gondwe.

He said in the MASAF IV project, the financial support will help to improve key safety net programs in the country which include Cash for Productive Community Public Works through the MASAF Social Cash Transfer, Livelihoods and Skills Development through Community Savings and Investment Program (COMSIP) and program management.

He said the project has three components which include Productive Safety Nets, Systems and Capacity Building and Project Management respectively.

The Minister said under the Safety Nets Program which is the main component of the project, the project will finance cash transfers through labour intensive programs in areas of productive community driven public works, livelihood and skills development interventions for poor households and social cash transfers for the most vulnerable and labour constrained including the elderly, disabled and sick.

“These interventions are very important considering the poverty levels in the country and the high number of vulnerable groups in the country,” he said adding that these activities will help to empower   vulnerable people by engaging themselves in some economic activity aimed at reducing their poverty,” said Gondwe.

He further said MASAF IV will be earmarked for eligible community driven projects, ranging from water supply and irrigation, bridges, storage facilities for maize and other grains, maize mills, oil mills, afforestation, nurseries for seedling cultivation, soil and water conservation dams, solar stoves, fish ponds, solar panels, mobile bicycle ambulances and health facilities.

Gondwe said that the MASAF IV will benefit about 752, 960 poor households through cash transfers for productive community driven public works, social cash transfers and livelihood support in a period of four years.

World Bank Country Manager Laura Kullenberg said Malawi’s economy depends on a narrow range of primary commodities for growth, and economic diversification is constrained by inadequate supply of human resources with appropriate skills.

“Young people in Malawi need to be able to find jobs that release them from poverty, and they cannot do so without the right skills,” said Kullenberg.

She said the latest data shows that around 90 percent of Malawi’s workforce is currently in subsistence farming and in the informal sector, only 10 percent work in formal paid jobs.

“We hope that the skills development project will make a tangible difference to thousands of young people in Malawi, improving their employment prospects and ultimately contributing to prosperity for all,” she said.

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