October 1, 2007

Struggling to reduce poverty / Government plans houses for poor urban dwellers

Despite recent efforts to grow the economy, a survey shows it would be unable to meet the United Nations (UN) target date of halving poverty by 2015. A welfare monitoring survey conducted by the ministry of economic planning and development indicated that poverty dropped to 45 percent in Malawi in 2006, from 53.9 percent in 1998. But Ben Botolo, a director in the ministry of economic planning and development said that despite this drop, "poverty levels still remain very high".
Malawi would not meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of "halving the proportion of people living below the poverty line by 2015," he stated and added that "there has not been a significant economic growth over the years to help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.” According to him, economic growth has stagnated at two percent per annum over the past decade. The World Bank, one of the major sponsors of Malawi's economic reforms, wants the agriculture-powered economy to grow by six percent annually to create wealth and jobs. The common feature of the Malawi poor is their inability to meet their minimum nutritional requirements and essential non-food needs equivalent to $40 per capita per annum, the official report says. Botolo emphasised that Malawi had also made "little progress" in slashing the mortality rate, currently at 984 per 100.000 live births. It was 1.120 deaths per 100 000 seven years ago.
Meanwhile, the government has announced that it would build houses for the poor urban dwellers on loan basis in order to provide affordable homes, Deputy Minister of Transport, Public Works and Housing, Gift Mwamondwe revealed during the commemoration of the 2007 World Habitat Day in Mzuzu. (The Daily Times, Lilingwe / Sapa)


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