June 20, 2024

US aid chief Samantha Power concludes two-nation Africa tour, meets with Presidents Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia

Samantha Power meets with President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi
Samantha Power meets with President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi

The administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, concluded her trip to Malawi on July 2 with a meeting with President Lazarus Chakwera in Lilongwe, the nation’s capital. Power and Chakwera, who has been in office for just two years now, discussed a wide range of issues, including food insecurity, corruption, democratic reforms. During her Africa trip, Power also met with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka.

Malawi holds regular elections and has undergone multiple peaceful transfers of power between political parties, most recently with the election of President Lazarus Chakwera in June of 2020. However, corruption remains a pervasive issue, according to a recent report by Transparency International.

In a statement, USAID said Power emphasized the importance of the ongoing partnership between the United States and Malawi and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Malawi’s strategic development vision.

She also announced new additional USAID funding to help the two nations achieve their shared vision by strengthening Malawi parliament and local governance, improving child education and nutrition, and combating the food and economic crisis.

USAID is funding $11.7 million to strengthen Malawi’s Parliament and has planned a $15 million project to “strengthen local governance to improve the delivery of government services to citizens in eight districts in Malawi.”

The US agency is also launching a five-year, $46 million initiative in support of the Government of Malawi’s National Multi-Sector Nutrition Policy. It is anticipated that USAID will invest $23 million and that the private sector will match this by also contributing $23 million. The United States plans to invest an additional $74 million in support of Malawi’s vision for early grade literacy through an early grade reading project that will improve the delivery of high-quality early grade reading instruction in all of Malawi’s public primary schools.

During her time in Malawi, Administrator Power participated in a “food security roundtable with key representatives influencing food policy in Malawi and discussed the impacts of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on global food security and nutrition, economic challenges due to rising prices of food, fuel, and fertilizer, and the actions needed to address food insecurity in Malawi.”

In Malawi, 90 percent of agriculture is rain fed according to the United Nations. Yet agriculture employs 80% of the population. Recent dry climate conditions, the covid-19 pandemic, and recent global market volatility brought about by Russia’s war on ukraine have all combined to create a concerning level of food insecurity in Malawi.

In late June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asserted that “Africa is actually taken hostage” in Russia’s war against Ukraine, referring to the damage that has been done to African economies as a secondhand result of Russia’s aggression.

Through USAID, the United States is funding an additional $12 million to support Malawian farmers. Additionally, Malawi has been added to the list of nations supported through the United States’ global Feed the Future initiative.

The U.S. Department of State press release also noted that the Administrator “joined anti-corruption leaders in Malawi including leaders of Parliament and independent oversight institutions to discuss the United States’ commitment to supporting Malawi’s anti-corruption and accountability efforts.”

According to Transparency International, corruption in Malawi got worse between 2013 and 2020. However, corruption has decreased since 2020, when President Lazarus Chakwera came to power.

While in Malawi, Administrator Power also visited an environmental education facility known as the Lilongwe Wildlife Center. She spoke with the center’s director about how it works to “combat wildlife trafficking, and conserve and restore forests, watersheds, and other important habitats.”

During this trip, Administrator Power also met with United States diplomats as well as Malawian leaders to thank them for the work they have done strengthening the U.S.-Malawi bilateral relationship in the face of numerous challenges, a State Department spokesperson Shejal Pulivarti said in a statement.

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