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Malawi - US Relations

The transition from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy significantly strengthened the already cordial bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Malawi. Significant numbers of Malawians study in the United States. The United States has a Peace Corps program, Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) program, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for International Development (USAID) missions in Malawi.

U.S. and Malawian views on the necessity of economic and political stability in southern Africa generally coincide. Through a pragmatic assessment of its own national interests and foreign policy objectives, Malawi advocates peaceful solutions to the region's problems through negotiation. Malawi works to achieve these objectives in the United Nations, African Union, COMESA, and SADC. Malawi was the first southern African nation to receive peacekeeping training under the U.S.-sponsored African Crisis Response Force Initiative (ACRI) and has joined ACRIs successor, the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) program. The Malawi Defense Force (MDF) maintains an active slate of military-to-military engagement programs with the U.S. The two countries nurture a lively dialogue through resident diplomatic representatives and periodic visits by senior officials.

The United States has a substantial foreign assistance program in Malawi. The U.S. Government provided approximately $145 million in development assistance to Malawi in FY 2010 under USAID's Country Strategic Plan (CSP). The primary focus of U.S. Government development assistance is to promote the social and economic development of Malawi, decrease the countrys dependence on humanitarian assistance, and increase its ability to make positive contributions to the global community. U.S. Government cooperation revolves around five broad areas, including: health, education, economic growth, democracy and governance, and humanitarian assistance. USAID/Malawi works in partnership with the Government of Malawi, nongovernmental organizations, community-based groups, faith-based organizations, other U.S. Government agencies--including the Centers for Disease Control, Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation--foundations, and private companies.

USAIDs economic growth activities in Malawi aim to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector as the basis for broad-based economic growth. These efforts are intended to increase incomes and reduce food insecurity. Activities include provision of training and technical assistance to increase farmers productivity, improving access to export markets and financial services for small and medium-sized businesses, acceleration of private sector development, and promotion of biodiversity.

In the democracy and governance field, USAID support has focused on reducing corruption, improving fiscal management, supporting election processes, and strengthening the role of civil society. In 2011, USAID programs promoted good governance, rule of law, and political competition. Most of these activities build on the 2006-2008 Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Country Program, and were to be aligned with the MCC Compact signed in 2011. USAID programming also provided support to Malawis efforts to combat trafficking in persons, money laundering, and gender bias. USAID supports a Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) program for Malawis banking system.

USAID health programs promote the health and well-being of Malawians through investing in strategic, high-quality health initiatives that support Malawis health development goals. The programs aim to improve access to quality health care, encourage the development of strong health policies, planning, and management, and strengthen the overall health care system. Focus areas include malaria, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, tuberculosis, family planning and reproductive health, strengthening supply chain management, and strengthening the human resource base across the health sector.

In the education sector, USAID-supported activities improve quality and access to basic education for thousands of Malawian children. Specific activities include teacher training and professional development, strengthening the role and participation of community groups in the education process, promoting nationwide interactive radio education, supporting decentralization in the education sector, and strengthening the governments ability to draft and adopt key policy reforms. In addition, USAID supports much of the analytical work that is used in national education sector planning documents and reforms.

In the humanitarian assistance field, USAID provides Malawi with timely and accurate information on food security conditions in the country. The U.S. Government provides funding to address the underlying causes of hunger and works to improve the Government of Malawis ability to respond to disasters.

The United States is the largest contributor to the World Food Program (WFP) in Malawi, providing over $100 million in food and other emergency assistance through WFP since early 2002. USAID has coordinated requests to the U.S. Government for humanitarian assistance, and WFP has handled the logistics of import and distribution.

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) operates two programs within Malawi: Global AIDS Program (GAP) and Malawi Malaria Program (MMP). The CDC GAP office started in November 2001 with an emphasis on establishing long-term working relationships with the Malawi Government, the National AIDS Commission (NAC), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other institutions involved in the national response to HIV/AIDS. The major areas of focus include helping Malawi understand the burden of HIV infection and AIDS disease trends in the country, preventing new infections, caring for individuals with HIV infection and treating AIDS patients with Highly Active Anti Retroviral Treatment (HAART). CDC is using the GAP program not only to respond to HIV/AIDS, but also as a platform for rebuilding national capacities to improve health outcomes in general.

The CDC MMP, funded by the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), jointly administered by USAID and CDC, has evolved to provide more support to the national prevention and control program. CDC MMP has supported the work of the National Malaria Control Program in developing the country strategic plan for Roll Back Malaria (RBM), developing the national "Malaria Policy," developing guidelines for the management of the insecticide-treated net (ITN) program, and participating in other national program activities. The first Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Malawi in 1963. Under the conservative Hastings Banda regime, the program was suspended for several years due to the "nonconformist" role of some volunteers but was restored in 1978. Since that time, the program has developed a close working relationship with the Government of Malawi. In total, over 2,200 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in Malawi. Currently, there are about 140 volunteers working in health (including HIV/AIDS), education, and environment programs. An interagency effort to implement the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) began in 2006. Through 2010, Malawi had received more than $200 million in financial and technical resources from the United States. Programs supporting prevention, treatment, care, and support for the health system are implemented by USAID, HHS/CDC, Peace Corps, and the Department of Defense, with the Department of State serving in a coordinating role for the whole U.S. Government effort.

In 2009, Malawi became the first nation to sign a PEPFAR Partnership Framework. This 5-year joint strategic plan for cooperation between the U.S. Government, the Government of Malawi, and other partners will combat HIV/AIDS in Malawi through service delivery, policy reform, and coordinated financial and in-kind commitments. In 2010, Malawi was selected to be one of eight new Global Health Initiative (GHI) Plus countries. Through GHI, PEPFAR will help Malawi improve health outcomes by integrating and coordinating health programs to promote a more sustainable system of care.

Through the efforts of the PEPFAR program, Malawi reduced the risk of HIV transmission to more than 30,000 children born to HIV-positive women. Because of the program, 1.7 million Malawians now know their HIV status. As of June 2010, PEPFAR supported the Global Fund in the financing of anti-retroviral treatment for more than 225,000 people. New partnerships in 2012 will focus on healthcare workforce development, improvements in access to quality care including the integration of services for Antiretroviral Treatment (ART), Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT), and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services to Malawian women, and maintaining a commitment to reducing the vulnerabilities of children.

Energy is a major constraint to economic development in Malawi. With an installed capacity of only 286 MW and an electrification rate of approximately 9% (about 1% to 3% in rural areas), Malawis power sector falls behind most of its peers in sub-Saharan Africa. In April 2011, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Malawi signed a $350.7 million Compact focused on revamping Malawis inadequate and unreliable electrical power sector. The project would implement power sector reform and improvement, including electrical grid infrastructure development with a focus on promoting private sector investment in new power generation. The MCC estimates that the Compact Program would result in $3.1 billion in income benefit to Malawi over the next 25 years. MCC further estimates that 5.9 million Malawians would benefit from increased employment income and business profit during this period. In July 2011, the MCC placed an operational hold on the Compact due to concerns over negative trends in political and economic governance following violent demonstrations throughout Malawi on July 20 and 21.

US assistance has nearly tripled in the past seven years: growing from $110 million in 2008 to $305 million in 2015. Of this, $192 million (63%) was dedicated to the health sector; $59 million (19%) to economic growth and agriculture; $14 million (5%) to the education sector, and $28 million (9%) for humanitarian assistance. Smaller portions support work in governance and the security sector.

In the health sector, U.S. assistance supported Malawian efforts to ensure that over half a million people with HIV infection received anti-retroviral therapy and nearly two million people received HIV counseling and testing. We helped distribute over 4.5 million malaria treatments; 2.3 million long lasting insecticide treated nets; and 11 million rapid diagnostic malaria test kits. To support safe and successful births, 263,797 women received treatment as part of active management of third stage of labor to help reduce post-partum hemorrhage, a major killer of women in delivery.

The United States has also invested heavily in Malawis economy, focusing particularly on agriculture and electrification. Efforts under our Feed the Future initiative improved agricultural practices on over 47,500 hectares. Nutrition and agriculture interventions benefitted over 500,000 rural households, improving overall food security in Malawi, and reduced stunting from 42% to 37% in target areas. U.S.-supported programs trained over 190,000 farmers in agriculture skills, technologies, and practices to improve productivity; and leveraged about $3.2 million in new private sector investment in the agriculture sector. Over $27 million in food aid is currently supporting households identified by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) as needing food assistance while other resources are aimed at building resilience among chronically food insecure communities to mitigate fluctuations in food availability. This support is in addition to the over $6.8 million provided in January to provide food assistance and agriculture, shelter, and water and sanitation supplies to flood-affected communities.

The United States appreciates Malawis strong partnership in security and regional stability. In 2015, U.S. military trainers again trained two battalions of Malawi Defense Forces (MDF) peacekeepers and continued support to the first-of-its-kind training course in Africa for senior non-commissioned officers at MAFCO. The Sergeants Majors course garnered a great deal of international interest and will be a model for other countries in Africa. The United States also provided training for dozens of military and law enforcement personnel from the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and other institutions in essential skills such as anti-corruption investigative techniques, crime scene investigations, and leadership skills.

In February 2016, Malawi and the United States signed a Military Cooperation Agreement setting the framework for continued military cooperation, assistance and training collaboration.

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