IFAD in Malawi
IFAD's investments support long-term growth paths for two groups:
- poor emergent smallholder farmers who are located in medium- and high-potential areas and who have the potential for achieving economic independence
- marginal farmers and vulnerable households, including households headed by women, youth and orphans
To reduce poverty by improving poor people's livelihoods, IFAD finances operations that:
- strengthen agriculture as the main livelihood for its beneficiaries by intensifying production, enhancing water management and improving access to profitable markets
- secure and diversify the livelihoods of marginal farmers and vulnerable households by supporting effective use of their limited resources and by promoting non-farm employment opportunities
- strengthen local institutions and resources at community and household levels by providing support for the decentralization process.
Participating in policy dialogue with other donors and with the Government ranks high on IFAD's agenda in Malawi. Priority areas for dialogue include the issue of market-led agricultural growth as a means of poverty reduction, incentive frameworks for agriculture and the need for consistency in policy implementation, especially at the grass-roots level, to foster the emergence of private-sector operators and farmers' organizations. In dialogue with other donors, IFAD examines what impact emergency relief efforts have on long-term development policies, and how the extension of grants beyond an emergency period can undermine incentives for poor farmers. IFAD also supports a stronger framework for donor coordination.
To support its strategy, IFAD has committed US$180.6 million for eleven programmes and projects in Malawi, and US$2.4 million for three technical assistance grants since 1981. Early investments supported area-based rural and agricultural development projects, which aimed to improve community infrastructure and smallholder access to credit. The projects supported increased use of fertilizer to improve yields on land characterized by declining fertility.
The Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme introduced in 2009 seeks to ensure that poor rural households engaged in agriculture, livestock and fish production have a role in the increasingly competitive, liberalized economy. The programme will engage the private sector to provide small-scale crop, livestock and fish producers and processors with the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully in the marketplace.
A seven-year project financed by IFAD in partnership with the World Bank, the Irrigation, Rural Livelihood and Agricultural Development Project, supports irrigation development and rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes, in line with the government's view that irrigation is one of the means available to significantly expand agricultural production. The project emphasizes operation, management and eventual ownership of irrigation schemes by local farmers, who are grouped in water users' associations. Many of the farmers are women. The project builds on another IFAD-funded operation, the Smallholder Flood Plains Development Programme (1998-2006), which tapped the potential for small-scale, supplementary irrigation development in flood plain areas. It improved the efficiency and extent of wetland gardening and flood plains rice cultivation, and expanded small- and medium-scale irrigation from surface water and groundwater.
Investments in the ongoing Rural Livelihoods Support Programme (2004-2013) are strengthening the decentralization process by building the capacity of local people and institutions and promoting sustainable natural resource management. The programme is also introducing schemes to help improve household food production capacity.
IFAD's operations in Malawi are in harmony with the government's focus on promoting growth in rural areas to reduce poverty and improve people's living standards. IFAD's goal is to strengthen the livelihoods of poor rural people through agricultural development and diversification. (An emerging area of IFAD's experience will be in rural commercialization through the Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme.)