The United Nations (UN) says Malawi alongside other Least Development Countries (LDCs) are vulnerable to the persistent and acute crises that are affecting the outcomes of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In its Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 titled ‘Times of crisis, times of change: science for accelerating transformations to sustainable development’, the UN says while recovery from Covid-19 has been slow, the current food, energy and the cost of living crises are intensifying the risks of poverty and hunger in LDCs, including Malawi.
Reads the report in part: “Multiple crises in recent years have meant that we are far off track on meeting the SDGs by 2030.
“Without renewed efforts and ambitious action, the situation is dire.”
The report shows a worsening trend across many of the goals between 2020 and 2023.
The target on ending extreme poverty of ndicator 1.1.1, which saw steady progress through 2018/19, has been disrupted by a multitude of recent crises, including Covid-19, cost of living and climate crises, among others.
On several other targets where there was good progress in 2018/19, the progress has now slowed down. These include skilled birth attendance at 3.1.2, Under-five mortality rate at 3.2.1, vaccine coverage at 3.b.1, primary education completion at 4.1.2, access to electricity at 7.1.1, gross domestic product growth at 8.1.1, addressing fossil fuel subsidies at 12.c.1 and reducing homicide rates at 16.1.1.
For goals where progress was too slow in 2019, in most cases, countries have not accelerated enough.
UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs Li Junhua observed in his accompanying statement that the surging cost of living crisis driven by subsequent conflict and geopolitical divides has widened the gaps.
He said: “By making the transformative changes enshrined in the 2030 Agenda, we can weather the global shocks, build resilience and emerge stronger. This is no time to panic or lose hope. Instead, it is time to act, collectively, with a long-term vision and focus.”
According to the Malawi 2022 Voluntary National Review Report for SDGs, in the seven years to 2022, Malawi registered notable progress in the health, education, gender, natural resources and climate change management and the partnership.
However, the goals of ending poverty and inequalities remain a challenge.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Sosten Gwengwe indicated that efforts are being put forward in the decade of action to ensure that most of the SDGs are met by 2030.
“The challenges in meeting some of the goals are both technical and structural,” he said.
But in an interview yesterday, former minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha said there is no hope that Malawi will attain the SDG targets.
He said: “Economic growth is slowing down and may easily reach negative growth levels shortly.
“Poverty is worsening, all macroeconomic indicators such as inflation, interest rates and exchange rate are worsening on a daily basis.” Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the National Statistical Office jointly published a report last month which showed that 58.9 percent of Malawians live in multidimensional poverty, a marginal improvement from 61 percent recorded in the previous report in 2021.