Mejn says effects of Covid-19 widening inequality in Malawi

The effects of the coronavirus  (Covid-19) pandemic is exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities in society, according to Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN).

MEJN acting executive director Bertha Phiri: Address inequality to protect the poor  

The economic think tank has  warned  that the poorest in society were at the sharp end of the crisis.

MEJN acting executive director Bertha Phiri made the remarks during a presentation she made in Lilongwe on Thursday at the launch of a five-year project, which Norwegian Aid for Development Cooperation (Norad) is funding through the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA).

Titled  ‘Fighting Social and Economic Inequalities in Education and Social Protection Sectors (Programs),’ the project aims to enhance responsiveness of duty-bearers to rights holders’ demand for fair and equitable financing and redistribution of resources in education and social protection sectors by mainstreaming Covid-19 issues.

Phiri observed that people on the lowest rungs of the society are suffering the worst social and economic effects of the pandemic due to loss of jobs as some companies are downsizing on their human resource while other businesses are closing down altogether.

“The country has recorded notable progress in some aspects of human development such as a decline in the under-five stunting rate by 10 percentage points, infant mortality rate declined between 1992 and 2016; and reduction in under-five mortalities.

“ However, Malawi will likely lose these gains if deliberate efforts to address the problem of inequality are not made,” she warned.

Phiri disclosed that the project has therefore been initiated to complement government’s efforts in ensuring that the efforts being made to address inequality are effective.

She said the project will increase awareness and capacity of citizens, local structures and civil society organizations (CSOs) on education and social protection policies.

“We aim to enhance budget oversight by local structures and CSOs for evidence-based budget and policy advocacy. Further, want to strengthen institutional capacity in national budget processes,” said Phiri.

Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) executive director Benedicto Kondowe welcomed the project, saying it will play a crucial role in addressing some of the challenges the education sector is facing.

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