Malawi is a small landlocked country in Southern Africa with a population of 13 million. Despite Malawi’s booming population, it is one of the top ten poorest countries and least developed in the world. The country of Malawi has recently suffered extreme agricultural droughts that has stunted the growth of the stable crop (maize) and resulted in extreme malnutrition and the plummeting of standard of living. These living conditions are particularly distressing when you consider that 88% of Malawi’s export revenue comes from agricultural production and that 90% of all the 13 million Malawians live in rural areas and rely on this revenue to survive. Because of the droughts in recent years, the economy of Malawi now relies on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations.
Despite malnutrition, AIDS, and extreme droughts, Malawi’s most extreme need is education. Families are being forced to choose between feeding their children and educating them and are pulling their children from schools at an alarming rate. In turn, educational institutions in Malawi are crumbling due to the diminishing financial resources; for example, kids have to sit under a tree in the tropical heat every day for classes. The decline of education and skilled workers is already having an effect as it has resulted in a sharp rise in poverty, malnutrition and disease, and the spread of AIDS.
Malawi has a literacy rate of 62%, compared to 99% in the United States. Malawi’s literacy rate among females is 50% and 75% among males, compared to 99% among females and 99% among males in the United States.
The average Malawian lives to only 54 years of age because of such factors as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and malnutrition. Just to put it in perspective, the average American lives to 78 years of age. Over 55% of Malawi’s population lives on less than $1 per day.
Masanjala is a rural province in the southern region of Malawi. The center of the province has 3 schools; a Nursery School, Primary School and Secondary School. MEF supports these schools and four other primary schools within the province. The whole province has a population of about 15 thousand people. Almost 100% of the population depends on agriculture as a source of income.