Malawi is one of the world's least developed countries, ranked 170th out of 187 countries according to the Human Development Index 2012 and is among the countries with the highest population density in Africa with a population estimated to be 15 million inhabitants. In 2011, about half of the population was estimated to live under the poverty line. In the last two years, Malawi's economic environment has continued to weaken. Growth has been slowing down from a peak of 8.9% in 2009 to an estimated 4.3% in 2011. Joyce Banda made history becoming in April 2012 Malawi's first female president and only the second woman to lead a country in Africa. The new administration has moved swiftly to restore macroeconomic stability and released this year, in addition of the Malawi Growth and development Strategy (MGDS) II that runs from 2011/12 to 2015/16, the Malawi Economic Recovery Plan which focuses on a number of prioritized economic sectors with high impact on the resumption of growth.

The National Indicative programme for Malawi has been allocated a global allocation of €560 million. In line with the Agenda for Change's emphasis on concentration of funding for greater impact, bilateral cooperation between the EU and Malawi in the years 2014-2020 will focus on:

  • Governance;
  • Sustainable agriculture;
  • Secondary education and vocational training.

In 2015, the EU has adopted the Annual Action Programme for Malawi which comprises of 3 actions.

In April 2012, Joyce Banda made history, becoming Malawi's first female president and only the second woman to lead an African country. The new administration moved swiftly to restore macro-economic stability. The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) II 2011/12-2015/16 and the Malawi Economic Recovery Plan, identify which sectors have the potential to generate growth. EU support to Malawi focusses on improving agriculture and food security and improving road connections with other countries of the region.

Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy. The Country Strategy Paper for Malawi (2008-13), drawn up between the Government of Malawi and the European Union, detail the areas of cooperation for €605.49 million of funding allocated under the 10thEuropean Development Fund (EDF). This sum includes an additional allocation following the mid-term review of the Cotonou Agreement.

Priorities are improvements to agricultural production and food security and upgrades to road infrastructure with neighbouring countries. The EU is committed to continue the use of general budget support in Malawi to consolidate and improve the country's macro-economic situation, to strengthen its public finance management systems and carry out policy reforms in the areas of education and health.

Other activities focus on good governance, institutional capacity-building, the fight against HIV/AIDS and investment and trade.

Cross-cutting issues such as children's rights and gender equality, environmental concerns and institutional development have been integrated in the majority of EU-funded programmes in Malawi.


Key country statistics

  • Total population (2015): 17 215 000
  • Life expectancy (at birth) (2015): 60 years (male), 62 years (female)
  • Human Development Index - Low human development (2014): 0,445
  • Population living below $1.90 a day (2010): 70.9%
  • Income share held by lowest 40% of income distribution (2010): 14.6%
  • Low income country - Gross National Income per capita (2014): 263 US$ (constant 2005 US$)
  • Average Gross Domestic Product growth over 5 years (2010-14): 4.9 %

Selected results achieved with EU support through projects and programmes completed between mid-2014 and mid-2015


  • 46 surgeons and ophthalmic clinical officers were trained in eye health
  • 358 000 patients (190 000 women and 168 000 men) have received eye health care services
  • 11 000 cataract operations have been performed on 6 000 female and 5 000 male patients

Agriculture and Food Security

  • 300 hectares of land have come under sustainable sugar cane management practices by smallholders farmers aimed at increasing fertility and productivity
  • 32 000 tons of sugar cane have been produced from 300 hectares harvested
  • The net revenue of farmers that have newly taken up sugar farming has increased by an average of 227 000 Malawian Kwacha enabling them to receive higher revenues from their previous subsistence farming
  • 22 000 pupils have received one meal of corn soya blend a day in the districts of Salima, Dowa, Dedza and Mangochi
  • 12 million trees - mostly neem and fruit trees - have been planted to curb deforestation and soil infertility decline as organic fertilizers, to reduce women's time spent on collecting fuel wood and to address issues of chronic income/food shortages
  • 24 000 pre-school and school going children have been reached through the distribution of nutritious foods


  • Primary school enrolment increased by 7.5% in schools participating in the School Meals Programme in Dedza and Mangochi. The overall objective of EU support was to improve the nutrition, health, and education situation in quality and quantity, with a specific focus on creating access of pupils of primary schools and early childhood development centers to a balanced school meal, safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene

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