Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with more than 50% of its people living below the poverty line. WUSC has been active in Malawi since 1981, working in refugee education, agriculture and rural development, and more recently health, especially in HIV and AIDS. WUSC works primarily in central and southern Malawi, where the effects of HIV and AIDS and environmental degradation are most pronounced.
In a country with a predominantly rural population and a relatively high rate of HIV infection, the challenge for government and civil society is to ensure that appropriate care and support is available to rural residents. WUSC supports partners who meet this challenge in selected districts. We support outreach programs run by hospitals and health clinics. They offer palliative care, run early-childhood and home-based care centres and provide transport to hospital for HIV and AIDS patients via bicycle ambulances. Over 100,000 people have already benefited from these services and while the prevalence rate remains high, care and support for people living with HIV has greatly improved.
WUSC has also had a positive impact in the health sector, through strengthening the capacity of local partners. WUSC has helped local partners in the health sector to develop strategic plans and improve communication strategies, and has assisted their efforts to get more resources. WUSC also helps partners develop monitoring and evaluation systems and income-generating activities. We help partners integrate gender equality practices at all levels. Through these initiatives, local partners are able to deliver their services more efficiently and effectively.
The HIV and AIDS pandemic has affected Malawi in both urban and rural areas, though the impact on rural residents is greater because of limited access to health services. Rural residents also need more up-to-date information on the pandemic. WUSC has responded by focusing its work in rural districts. We work with our partners to find the resources they need, put them to use and keep their programs strong.
There has been a decrease in funding for HIV and AIDS interventions in Malawi. As a result, WUSC’s civil society partners have fewer funds to run their services. Organizations need to develop new and innovative ways to get the funds they need for their programs, and to make their programs sustainable. WUSC is helping them do that. Based on its success, WUSC is planning to scale up its efforts to support partners working in HIV prevention and community education.