Where We Work - Malawi

In Malawi since 1983, Save the Children works directly or through partners in over a dozen districts. We seek to ensure that children in need are protected, healthy and nourished, educated and live in economically secure households, while helping communities mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS.

Our Results in Malawi

  • We kept 10,647 children safe from harm.
  • More than 113,558 children got the opportunity to learn.
  • In times of crisis, 204,034 children received emergency relief.
  • More than 1,011,722 children had a healthy start in life.
  • We reached 23,612 people to help fight the spread of AIDS, care for the sick and protect orphans left behind by the terrible disease.
  • To help parents feed their children, 25,664 received support to start businesses, improve farming practices and invest in their children’s futures.
  • To fight malnutrition, nearly 560,889 received nutritious food and vital supplements.

The following items in our gift catalog benefit programs in Malawi. Shop now!


Give a Chick

Baby chicks grow to produce protein-rich eggs that provide essential nutrients. Excess eggs and additional chicks can be sold in markets to support families.


Give a Cow

Cows provide protein-rich milk that boosts nutrition. With a small herd, families can earn a steady income selling excess milk.


Give a Sheep

Sheep supply wool, milk and fertilizer to improve daily life for impoverished families. Herds of sheep can be a significant source of income.

Give Fish

Give Fish

With fish-farm training, a stock of fish, fishing pole, fishhooks, lines and fishing net, a family can feed themselves and start a business escape poverty.

Learn more about our work in Malawi

Challenges for Children

Poor children and caregivers in Malawi have limited access to services that can improve children’s health and nutrition. One child in eight dies before reaching age 5. Malnutrition is widespread and nearly half of all children under 5 have stunted development. While Malawi is one of only a few African countries on track to reach the reduction in under-5 mortality set out in Millennium Development Goal 4, neonatal, infant and child mortality rates are still unacceptably high. Seven out of 10 child deaths in Malawi are due to preventable causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, anemia, malnutrition and neonatal causes. Malaria and pneumonia alone account for nearly half of those deaths.

Malawi is thought to have nearly 500,000 children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, and approximately 25,000 new pediatric HIV/AIDS infections are registered every year. Extended family members have been overwhelmed with new demands for support to these orphaned and vulnerable children, both economically and psychosocially.

Just over 80% of all children between ages 6 and 13 are enrolled in elementary school. Young people’s literacy has increased to 76% and women’s literacy is making gains. However, the quality of education remains poor. There is an acute shortage of teachers and physical infrastructure, and many children either do not graduate elementary school or repeat many classes. Causes of drop-out include the inability to purchase materials to attend school, the need for labor at home, and, particularly for girls, early pregnancy and marriage as well as fears about safety and security while at school.

Our Response

From 2008-2012, our four focus areas are maternal and newborn health, child health and nutrition, early childhood development and primary education. Ensuring food security for vulnerable households and protecting children from abuse will underlie all of these efforts.

Specifically, our programs in Malawi include the following areas:


Save the Children promotes the use of low-cost and effective, proven interventions at the health facility, community and household level. We seek to increase the number of skilled health service providers (the supply side) as well as improve knowledge, attitudes and practices at the community and household level (the demand side). We have been working with the Ministry of Health and others to demonstrate a community-based maternal and newborn care package in six districts. Community-based health surveillance assistants provide counseling and encourage women to seek prenatal, delivery and postnatal services from skilled providers at the facility level. We also train and support health education volunteers, who provide neighbors with maternal, newborn and child health messages and counseling.

Early Childhood Development

Since 2001, Save the Children has helped communities care for orphans and young children. Community-based childcare centers run by volunteer caregivers provide an ideal entry point for reaching young children. We support the government’s efforts to improve the quality of early childhood development by training caregivers and by strengthening management committees. We also work to help communities recognize and address the psychosocial needs of particularly vulnerable children, especially orphans. We are also testing new approaches to strengthen services for children under age 2 and continue to replicate enrichment activities for children ages 3-6. Currently, we are assisting more than 200 community-based childcare centers, each with an average enrollment of 50-70 children.

Basic Education

We increase children’s access to basic education, help children stay in school and enhance the quality of education. Save the Children supports the construction and renovation of schools to reduce overcrowded classrooms and increase children’s access. We also improve the quality of education by enhancing teachers’ professional skills and knowledge through a mentoring program. In addition, we promote children’s literacy — a key foundation for learning — by mobilizing schools and communities. There is special emphasis on reaching girls and other vulnerable groups in the school setting.


We seek to ensure that households have the incomes to meet the needs of children. Given that nearly 90 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, our goal is to improve household income by helping families produce and market more crops. This includes technical assistance, seeds and the establishment of village savings and loan groups. Save the Children also plays a crucial role in providing technical support to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, a government-led structure that conducts national analyses on vulnerability to food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition.


Our programs help children and families affected by HIV/AIDS obtain community-based care that prolongs and improves their quality of life. We minimize the impact of HIV/AIDS on orphans and other vulnerable children by bringing together communities to address food, livelihoods and other needs of AIDS-affected households and preventing new infections through behavior changes.

Sponsor a Child in Malawi

Sponsorship is a special kind of giving that creates a relationship between you and the community in which Save the Children is helping to create real and lasting change. It provides more than the satisfaction that comes with aid for improving the health and well-being of children; it delivers a special opportunity to witness young lives lifted over time. Through child sponsorship, two lives are changed forever: yours and the life of your sponsored child.

Malawi Facts and Statistics

  • Population: 17,377,468
  • Infant Death Rate: 71 in 1,000 live births
  • Life Expectancy: 60 years
  • Underweight Children: 13.8%
  • Human Development Rank: 174 out of 187 countries
  • Maternal Death Risk: 1 in 36 women
  • Girls' Education: 10.8 years
  • Income per capita: 320 (USD)


Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2014 State of the World’s Mothers report.You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Population and Life Expectancy: CIA World Factbook 2014; Human Development Rank: United Nations Development Programme 2014; Underweight Children: World Health Organization Report 2014

Last Updated December 2014

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