Key data for Malawi

HANCI compares 45 developing countries for their performance on 22 indicators of political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition. All the countries compared in the index have high rates of hunger and undernutrition. The comparative approach of the index means that country scores are calculated in relation to the political commitment of the other countries in the index.
Existing rates of: Stunting: 42.4% Wasting: 3.8% Proportion of population underweight: 16.7% Source: DHS (2009)

Strong Performance

  • Malawi is one of the few countries which meets its commitments agreed within the African Union’s Maputo Declaration, to spend over 10% of public expenditure on agriculture (28.9%).
  • Malawi invests substantially in its health sector, which receives 18.5% of public expenditure.
  • The Government promotes complementary feeding practices and 96% of children aged 6–59 months received 2 high doses of vitamin A supplements in 2011.
  • 94.7% of women aged 15–49 were attended at least once during pregnancy by skilled health personnel.
  • Nutrition is a priority area in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, and a range of nutrition-focused policies have been put in place in the past eight years with clear time-bound targets.
  • Malawi has instituted a separate budget line for nutrition, improving public oversight and accountability for spending.
  • The National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan set out time bound nutrition targets and set up an intersectoral coordinating body (National Nutrition Committee).
  • Regular (once every three years) nutrition surveys have enabled policymakers’ access to up to date information.
  • Nutrition is increasingly integrated in key sectoral policies and has received high-level political endorsement; the Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS, which implements the National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan, is situated in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

Areas for improvement

  • The constitution of Malawi enshrines a non-justiciable right to food and the right to social security. Some of these rights exist on paper but are not effectively enforced. Discrimination against women reduces their access to, and ownership of farmland increasing their vulnerability to hunger and undernutrition.
  • People’s access to improved sanitation (52.9%) is high compared to some of Malawi’s neighbours; nevertheless, there is substantial scope for improvement.
  • Institutional, legal and market frameworks for accessing land have been put in place, however they do not always help poor rural households gain secure land tenure. Moreover, agricultural research and extension services do not always effectively reach poor farmers.
  • Social protection programmes are basic, largely donor funded, and do not yet cover key potential beneficiary groups with adequate support, to mitigate extreme poverty and hunger.
  • There is substantial scope for improving the coverage of Malawi’s civil registration system. Only 16.6% of live births are registered. This potentially limits children from gaining access to basic services, including health and education, as this may be dependent on proof of legal identity.

Hunger Reduction Commitment Index (HRCI)

Public Spending Score Year HRCI rank of 45
Government spending on agriculture ?12%20131st
Government spending on health ?17.8%20125th
Policies Score Year HRCI rank of 45
Security of access to land?Moderate201317th
Access to agri. extension services ?Moderate201327th
Civil registration of live births ?63.9%201420th
Status of safety nets?Non-Existent201422nd
Laws Score Year HRCI rank of 45
Constitutional right to food ?Strong20111st
Women’s access to agricultural land?In Law, not in Practice20144th
Women’s Economic rights ?Not Enforced20115th
Constitutional right to social security?Yes20061st

Nutrition Commitment Index (NCI)

Public Spending Score Year NCI rank of 45
Nutrition budget ?Yes20141st
Policies Score Year NCI rank of 45
Vitamin A coverage ?90%201322nd
Governments promote complementary feeding?Yes20121st
Access to drinking water ?85%201214th
Access to sanitation?52.9%201115th
Skilled birth attendance ?94.7%201011th
Extent of nutrition features in national dev. policies/strategies?Weak20141st
National nutrition policy, plan or strategy?Yes20141st
Multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder coord. mechanism?Yes20141st
Time bound nutrition targets?Yes20121st
National nutrition survey ?Yes20141st
Laws Score Year NCI rank of 45
Enshrine ICBMS in domestic law ?Aspects Enshrined201421st