Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa and in the world.  Classified by the United Nations as a Least Developed Country and as a Highly Indebted Country by the World Bank, Malawi faces significant economic and social challenges.  With a narrow economic base, lack of significant mineral resources, high population density, land-locked status and prohibitive costs associated with external trade, Malawi is heavily dependent on agricultural production.  Thus, 90% of the rural population of the nation derives their livelihoods from agriculture; and agricultural produce accounts for 90% of Malawi’s exports. (Source: Republic of Malawi: National Statistical Office)

Poverty is significant and widespread, prevalent in both urban and rural areas, and encompasses nearly three-quarters of the Malawian population. UNDP estimates that 90% of the population lives at or below the international poverty standard of $2/day with 74% living at less than $1.25/day.  Malawi’s national poverty level (rates determined in country) place 65% of the population below the poverty line.  And, in 2009 Malawi was ranked 160 out of 182 countries in the UNDP Human Development Report leading to its classification in the category of “Low Human Development.”

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