One of the world's poorest, this small nation is located in southeast central Africa between 9 and 17 degrees south of the equator. Bordered by Mozambique to the east, Zambia to the west, and Tanzania to the north, Malawi was formerly a British Protectorate known as Nyasaland. Since 1964, Malawi has been independent nation and a member of the British Commonwealth.
In 1994, Malawi successfully made a peaceful transition to a democratic multiparty system from a single party system. Dr. Bakili Mulusi, Malawi's current president, was elected in 1995. He succeeded Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Malawi's president of the previous 30 years (who, before that, was a doctor in Salford, England).
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounted for nearly 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues in 2001. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In late 2000, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. In November 2002 the World Bank approved a $50 million drought recovery package, which is to be used for famine relief. The government faces strong challenges, e.g., to fully develop a market economy, to improve educational facilities, to face up to environmental problems, to deal with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and to satisfy foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for over 50% of exports.
Malawi has a HDI rank of 162 - value 0.387 in 2001.
Chewa (official) and English; several Bantu languages other than Chewa - are spoken by their respective ethnic groups
The terrain and climate are extremely varied. The major geological feature is the great Rift fault that runs through the country from north to south. Part of this depression is filled by Lake Malawi, which takes up one fifth of the land area. The rest is made up of plateaus of varying altitudes. The most temperate region is the southern part which is the highest, containing most of the population and economic activities.
The lowlands receive heavy rainfall and are covered by grasslands, forests or rain forests, depending on the amount of rainfall they receive.
The degradation of the soil and deforestation are the main environmental problems.
The programme covered the entire district of Nkhotakota in central Malawi; one of the least known and developed region of a very poor nation. There is little in the way of infrastructure or civil society. The area covered is just in excess of 4,000 square kilometres and the latest population estimate is 271,212. There is no industry in this region and few job opportunities, the majority of the people are subsistence farmers or fishermen.
The region is divided into six Traditional Authorities; Kanyenda, Malangachanzi, Mphonde, Kafuzila, Mwazama, Nwansamdo. Its eastern boundary is Lake Malawi; its western is effectively Nkhotakota game reserve.
The HIV rate amongst adults is high, in an unpublished 1998 study 28.8% of expectant mothers at St. Anne's Mission Hospital tested seropositive.