Poverty in Malawi is extensive and deepening with life expectancy for Malawians now stands at 63.7 from the previous 63.8 mark, a latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) report has revealed.
The report shows that people’s living standards stagnated in 2017 and categorised the country in the low human development category, with an HDI value ranking of 171 out of 189 countries and territories assessed.
Malawi has made “a very slight increase” in HDI, based on the report, which suggests is an indication of the challenges ahead .
This year’s report indicates that poverty in Malawi is worsening , not only in rural areas, but also im urban areas.
The report also indicates that on a positive note, between 1990 and 2017, Malawi’s HDI value increased by 40.2 percent, up from 0.340 to 0.477 but says the country, however, remains below the average of 0.504 for countries in the low human development group
The UNDP findings collarets with the findings of the data from the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (Unctad) which also indicates that 71 percent of Malawians are living in extreme poverty despite increased public spending on health and education, which are Malawi’s priority areas.
Malawi’s poverty levels are high in rural areas with a headcount ratio of 58 percent while in the urban areas, poverty headcount ratio stood at roughly about 20 percent, according to Unctad report.
The second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) review found that Malawi failed to reduce poverty and worsened deprivation in urban areas with the urban poverty which between 2010 and 2013 surged 8.3 percent from 17.9 percent to 26.2 percent.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Developmnent Goodall Gondwe, said government is doing its best to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, by, among other things, using taxation and introducing poverty reduction programmes.
He faulted economics for not coming up with a concrete universally accepted theory for tackling the question of growing inequality.