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World > Africa > Malawi > Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Malawi - Relations with U.S. (Notes)


U.S.-MALAWIAN RELATIONS
The transition from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy significantly strengthened the already cordial U.S. relationship with Malawi. Significant numbers of Malawians study in the United States. The United States has an active Peace Corps program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, and an Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Malawi.

U.S. and Malawian views on the necessity of economic and political stability in southern Africa generally coincide. Through a pragmatic assessment of its own national interests and foreign policy objectives, Malawi advocates peaceful solutions to the region's problems through negotiation. Malawi works to achieve these objectives in the United Nations, COMESA, and SADC. Malawi is the first southern African country to receive peacekeeping training under the U.S.-sponsored African Crisis Response Force Initiative (ACRI) and has joined the successor program, African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA). It has an active slate of peacetime engagement military-to-military programs. The two countries maintain a continuing dialogue through diplomatic representatives and periodic visits by senior officials.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
The United States has a substantial foreign assistance program in Malawi. The U.S. Government provides about $60 million annually in development assistance under USAID's Country Strategic Plan (CSP) for the period 2001-2007. The primary goal of USAID assistance is poverty reduction and increased food security through broad-based, market-led economic growth, focusing on four areas: sustainable increases in rural incomes, increased civic involvement in the rule of law, improved health behavior and services, and improved quality and efficiency of basic education. The USAID program is implemented in partnership with the Government of Malawi, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), other U.S. Government agencies, U.S. private voluntary organizations, contractors, and other partners.

USAID?s program to increase rural incomes includes training and technical assistance to increase smallholder (crop, dairy, forest, and fishery) productivity; foster additional trade linkages among small farmer producer associations, larger commodity-specific industry clusters, and export markets (e.g. cassava, chilies, ground nuts, cotton, coffee, etc.); improve access to demand-driven financial services for micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs); increase rural households? revenues from sustainable natural resource management; and improve food security for vulnerable families in Malawi?s rural areas. USAID is also encouraging smallholders to diversify into dairy production, a very lucrative business in Malawi and well-suited to Malawi?s limited land area. USAID grantee Land O? Lakes (LOL), partnering with World Wide Sires, continues to promote the growth of the dairy industry in Malawi through 55 dairy associations with over 6,376 members (46% of which are women). Milk sales grew by 71% this year, from U.S. $439,276 in FY 2004 to U.S. $752,000.

2005 was a year of transition for the Democracy/Governance portfolio. The primary focus was on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Threshold Country Program development process in Malawi, which resulted in a $20.9 million award to Malawi to fight corruption and increase fiscal responsibility. U.S Economic Support Funds (ESF) complemented the MCC Threshold Country Plan formulation, providing technical and training support to the Anti-Corruption Bureau Investigation Department, delivered by the Department of Treasury. USAID also mobilized a project supported with Conflict Mitigation and Management funding, building on the strength of previous work through radio, to reduce the potential of inter-religious conflict in Malawi. During the year many projects associated with the Mission?s previous strategy closed out and another project was terminated for the convenience of the government to accommodate changes in partner funding priorities.

In 2005 the USAID Health Team met or exceeded almost all of its targets. Under-five mortality rates declined from a high of 189 per thousand live births in 2000 to 133 per thousand live births in 2004--much lower than the 2005 target of 175 per thousand. Total fertility rate (TFR) declined to 6 children per woman, which was the target for 2005. The proportion of Malawian children sleeping under an insecticide treated bednet (ITN) (26% in 2004) was more than three times the proportion (8%) sleeping under an ITN in 2000. In the area of HIV prevention, the number of USAID-assisted counseling and testing centers increased from 3 in 2000 to 51 in FY 2005--overshooting the target of 39 sites. The number of clients assisted at these sites per year increased from about 22,000 in 2000 to more than 59,000 in 2005. The country completed a national Demographic and Health Survey with major support from USAID/Malawi. The report makes available the first-ever nationally representative population-based HIV sero-prevalence rate for Malawi, which is important for better-informed policy and program decisions as the nation combats the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Improving the quality and efficiency of basic education remain the major development challenges in the Malawi education system. USAID continues to fund activities that target quality and efficiency at the primary education sub-sector level, which is having a positive effect at both the local and national levels. At the local level, USAID-funded activities are helping communities and parents make more informed decisions to improve the quality and efficiency of primary schooling. In 2005 USAID continued to improve the quality and efficiency of basic education through: (1) development of teachers? professional skills through long-term undergraduate and graduate training in Malawi and the U.S.; (2) reinforcement of innovative classroom practices through pre-service and in-service teacher training; (3) participation of communities and teacher training colleges in HIV/AIDS outreach activities; (4) support of Government of Malawi adoption of key policy reforms in teacher education and HIV/AIDS; and (5) improving the quality and quantity of data available for policymaking.

The United States is the largest contributor to the World Food Program (WFP) in Malawi, providing over $100 million in food and other emergency assistance through WFP since early 2002. USAID will coordinate requests to the U.S. Government for humanitarian assistance, and WFP will handle the logistics of import and distribution.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) operates two programs within Malawi: Global AIDS Program (GAP) and Malawi Malaria Program (MMP).

The CDC GAP office started in November 2001 with an emphasis on establishing long-term working relationships with the Malawi Government, the National AIDS Commission (NAC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH). The major areas of focus during the initial phase included strengthening Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT), HIV surveillance, evaluation, infrastructure, and capacity-building activities.

GAP Malawi supports multiple HIV surveillance activities including sentinel surveillance and the Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) survey. In partnership with NAC, CDC GAP continued to strengthen VCT, developing multiple national VCT building blocks such as VCT Guidelines and VCT Training materials. CDC GAP also improved the communications and data analysis capacity at NAC by helping to establish their computer system and establish the foundation for data analysis.

In 2003, responsibility for the HIV technical activity was transferred from NAC back to the MOH. CDC awarded two cooperative agreements to provide transitional support for a smooth transfer of activities, roles and responsibilities. In addition, GAP has cooperative agreements that support implementation of quality VCT, HIV treatment, and pre-service training to strengthen HIV testing capacity. Capacity-building is an integral part of all GAP Malawi activities. GAP Malawi recently went through a joint HIV/AIDS strategy development process, along with USAID, the Department of Defense, Peace Corps, and the Embassy.

The CDC MMP is jointly funded by USAID and CDC has evolved to provide more support to the national prevention and control program. CDC MMP has supported the work of the National Malaria Control Programme in developing the country strategic plan for Roll Back Malaria (RBM), developing the national 'Malaria Policy,' developing guidelines for the management of ITNs Program, and participating in other national program activities.

The Blantyre Integrated Malaria Initiative (BIMI), a program of CDC MMP, is a district-wide malaria-control effort, supported jointly by the Government of Malawi, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BIMI was established in Blantyre District, Malawi in 1998 to promote sustainable and effective strategies to manage and prevent malaria-related morbidity and mortality.

Initial BIMI efforts focused on measurement of baseline data at health facilities and in the community. The information gathered was used to identify gaps in malaria control activities, to guide strategies for implementation of interventions, and to provide baseline measurements so that the success of program interventions can be monitored.

Peace Corps
The first Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Malawi in 1963. Under the conservative Banda regime, the program was suspended for several years due to the 'nonconformist' role of some volunteers but was restored in 1978. Since that time, the program has developed a close working relationship with the Government of Malawi. In total, over 2,200 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in Malawi.

The change of government in 1994 allowed the placement of volunteers at the community level for the first time. With the increased flexibility in programming, the Peace Corps began working to refocus programming and identify more appropriate areas for Peace Corps intervention at the community level. Currently, there are about 100 volunteers working in health, education, and environment.

Health volunteers work in areas of AIDS education, orphan care, home-based care, youth and at-risk groups, child survival activities, nutrition, disease prevention, environmental health, and women's health issues. For many years, Peace Corps/Malawi had the only stand-alone HIV/AIDS project in the Peace Corps, and HIV/AIDS continues to be the cornerstone for health activities.

Education volunteers teach in the fields of physical science, mathematics, biology, and English at Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs), generally community-started and -supported entities.

Environment volunteers focus on community-based management of natural resources with border communities near national parks and forest reserves that want to utilize their resources in a more sustainable manner. This includes the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, income-generating activities, and agroforestry interventions.

The Crisis Corps program utilizes returned volunteers in short-term assignments for specific projects related to HIV/AIDS and food security. Crisis Corps volunteers are generally assigned with a local NGO to assist with activities that build capacity and develop materials within the organizations.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Alan Eastham
Deputy Chief of Mission--Kevin Sullivan
USAID Mission Director--Curt Reintsma
Peace Corps Director--Dale Mosier
Centers for Disease Control Director--Austin Demby

The U.S. Embassy in Malawi is situated in the diplomatic enclave adjacent to Lilongwe's City Center section. The address is American Embassy, P.O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi (tel. +265- (0)1 773 166/342/367; fax +265- (0)1 772-471).


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