Malawi’s JB, Clinton sign pact: Poverty eradication initiative

“This is a good day for Malawi,” was how President Joyce Banda summed up her meeting with former US President Bill Clinton in New York on Sunday, September 23, 2012 where the two a signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf and the Malawi Government and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), respectively.

The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting at Sheraton Hotel. The CGI Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City, with the 2012 Annual Meeting taking place from September 23-25.

State House Press Officer, Tusekele Mwanyongo told Nyasa Timesthat Flora Kaluwire who is the National Coordinator for the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty and Reduction, under which the MoU exists, and a member of the Initiative’s steering committee, Senior Chief Malemia accompanied the President during the signing ceremony.

President Banda, Minister Anita Kalinde and ex-president Bill Clinton.-Photo courtesy of State House

High profile CGI executives, Malawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ephraim Chiume, Gender Minister Anitta Kalinde, Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Grace Maseko, MPs and other senior government officials also witnessed the event.

The President told reporters after the signing of the MoU that when she became President, she launched the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Reduction, one of whose objectives is to help rural Malawian farmers to produce export potential crops and realize better incomes.

She observed that the Clinton Global Initiative already has activities and programmes in Malawi where, among them, they have commercial farms and mobilize communities around these farms and assist them to grow crops; create markets for them; train them and provide inputs for those farms.

“It is the similarity of concepts to help women and the youth and smallholder farmers in general grow export potential crops in rural Malawi that has culminated into this MoU. I have always said that what Africa needs are partnerships; Africans know what the problems are and what the solutions are, but lack the technical and financial support is the major setback.

“It is a welcome development that the Clinton Global Initiative has agreed to provide the technical and material support towards the achievement of the objectives of the Presidential Initiative on Hunger and Poverty Reduction”, said President Banda.

The Head of State recalled that when Bill Clinton first came to Malawi “to work with Malawi”, she was then foreign minister. She said she had the “honour and privilege” to sign the agreement with him on behalf of Malawi.

“President Clinton has gone into food security; he’s gone into health sector; it is only appropriate to work his global development initiative to realize our dream of reducing the poverty and hunger levels among the people,” Banda said, adding that during the signing ceremony, she had also requested Clinton to assist farmers in Malawi to get maximum money for their sweat as their friends in the tobacco industry do.

She also proposed that CGI should help Malawi with technical support to put in place a regulatory system so that farmers are not reaped off by unscrupulous buyers. This would also minimize cases of smuggling so that the country “does not lose the much needed foreign exchange”.

The mission CGI is to turn ideas into action. Established in 2005 by President Clinton, CGI convenes a community of global leaders to forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

To date, CGI members have made more than 2,100 Commitments to Action, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

Putting pen to paper: President Banda and president Bill Clinton-Photo courtesy of State House
Senior Chief Malemia & Flora Kaluwire of the Presidential Initiative on Hunger & Poverty Reduction and MPs meet former US President Bill Clinton in New York to discuss Malawi development prospects-Photo courtesy of State House
President Banda and former US President Clinton-Photo courtesy of State House

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