Skip to content
News release

Under one government after another, more and more Malawians live in poverty

23 Mar 2023 Malawi
Download (English)
News release
Key findings
  • Three-fourths of Malawians experienced either moderate (38%) or high (37%) lived poverty during the year preceding the survey (Figure 1).
  • Moderate/High lived poverty declined substantially between 2003 (77%) and 2008 (55%) but has risen by 19 percentage points since then. Moreover, compared to 2019, high lived poverty has increased by 17 percentage points while moderate lived poverty has decreased by 12 points (Figure 2).
  • Shortages of basic necessities affect most Malawians. More than six in 10 citizens (63%) say they or someone in their family went without a cash income “many times” or “always” during the previous year. Substantial numbers of people report frequently going without enough food (35%), medical care or medicines (34%), cooking fuel (29%), and clean water (24%) (Figure 3).
  • Citizens’ assessments of the government’s performance on improving the living standards of the poor were largely positive during Bingu wa Mutharika’s first term (when 60% said the government was doing “fairly well” or “very well”) and have been worsening since then. Only 15% of citizens approve of the current government’s efforts to reduce poverty (Figure 5).

A large majority of Malawians experienced moderate or high lived poverty during the past year, continuing a negative trend that started in 2008, results of Afrobarometer’s 2022 survey show.

Moreover, the share of households reporting the most severe level of poverty has increased since 2019. The shortages that Malawian households experience most frequently are of a cash income and sufficient food.

Alongside worsening lived poverty, citizens’ ratings of the government’s performance on improving life for the poor have been growing increasingly negative since a 2008 assessment of the first-term Bingu wa Mutharika administration.