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Trócaire’s work in Malawi contributes to reducing poverty, while also affecting structural change by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.

village and savings loans group malawi

Members of a Village Savings and Loans Group (VSL) conduct their weekly meeting under a tree to count and record their savings, Salima District, Malawi. Photo: Bazar Productions

Key Facts

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Trócaire has been working in Malawi since 1976. We opened our office in Lilongwe in 2007

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Trócaire is working with over 31,000 women and 26,000 men directly

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Governance and Human Rights, Women's Empowerment, Food and Resource Rights, Humanitarian Response

Trócaire's work in Malawi

Trócaire started working in Malawi in 1976, and the Malawi country office was officially opened in 2007.

The majority of our work takes place in rural southern Malawi, an area with the highest proportion of Malawians living in poverty and most prone to climatic shocks. 

In 2017, Trócaire in Malawi is working with over 31,000 women and 26,000 men directly.  

Trócaire works to increase the capacity of citizens and civil society organisations, church diocesan structures, women’s organisations, religious and traditional leaders, and advocacy groups to: 

  • Protect the rights of marginalised women and men, shape policy at local and national levels, hold duty bearers to account, and protect civil society space;
  • Ensure rural farmers’, in particular women farmers, exercise their right to access, use and manage natural resources, i.e. land and water; 
  • Empower women to exercise greater control over decisions that affect their lives and ensure that women and girls are free from violence and its associated risks, including HIV; 
  • Build community resilience to climate change and climatic shocks, particularly droughts and floods.

Our Programmes

In line with Trócaire’s Global Strategy, Trócaire’s work in Malawi focuses on the following areas:

1. Governance and Human Rights

Trócaire works in solidarity with civil society, to hold those in power to account at local, district and national levels.

Trócaire Malawi has developed an impactful and innovative citizen-led approach, which is at the core of our Governance and Human Rights programming. 

Trócaire and partners track the National Budget in Malawi to ensure that it addresses the needs of the people especially the marginalised groups; monitor the fair distribution of financial resources and also advocate for  the creation of public institutions that are transparent and accountable to the citizens of Malawi.

Through our programmes, we provide information about government processes to women and men, and provide communities with tools to better monitor and engage in decision making processes. 

In 2017, the Governance and Human Rights program is reaching 5,000 women, 6,500 men directly. This included:

  • Training 27  ‘Area Development Committees' across Malawi (250 female and 560 male) to analyse and track budgets and ensure transparent and accountable use of the District Development Fund, Constituency Development Fund and the Local Development Fund by the District Councils.
  • 160 secondary school and university students (105 female, 55 male) have increased awareness and knowledge on budget and local governance processes thereby empowering them to take an active role and effectively contribute to governance processes in Malawi and at the same time hold duty bearers to account.

2. Resource Rights, Use and Management (Land and Water)

Trócaire Malawi’s Resource Rights programme supports rural farmers living in poverty, particularly women and their children, to benefit from the sustainable use and management of natural resources namely land and water.

In the context of climatic shocks in Malawi, Trócaire and partners promote an agro-ecological approach, which supports environmentally friendly agriculture without external chemical inputs.

The programme builds resilience and tackles the chronic water and food insecurity situation faced by many households in Malawi. Trócaire and its partners improve households’ access to, use and management of water in several ways, such as building and maintaining sustainable irrigation systems.

Not only does this provide potable water for household use, irrigation systems also enable farmers to harvest  twice - instead of once a year, improving nutrition and reducing the ‘hunger gap’ between harvests. 

Trócaire also support households to engage in diverse income generating opportunities, including small-livestock farming, making and selling improved cook stoves, and participating in Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).

Trócaire Malawi, together with its partners, works on climate change policy at a national level.

The Resource Rights programme successfully contributed to the adoption of the Climate Change and Agriculture Policies in 2016, and is currently advocating for the enactment of three more national bills: the Climate Change Management Bill, Disaster Risk Management Bill and the Right to Food Bill.

Key results from 2014 to 2017 include:

  • 57 per cent increase in female headed households (from 17 to 74  per cent) who  were able to use good quality seeds and managed to diversify their agriculture production from mono-cropping maize to at least four different types of crops (e.g. maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, beans, vegetables).
  • Female-headed households whose primary source of food during the critical hunger period (January-March) is from their own harvest or income, increased from 37 per cent  to 52 per cent.

3. Women's Empowerment

Our work on Women’s Empowerment aims to ensure that women and girls are free from gender-based violence (GBV) and its associated risks including HIV.

The programme has a strong focus on GBV prevention using the SASA! Faith methodology, an innovative and impactful approach, developed by Trócaire and Raising Voices Uganda.

The programme brings together traditional and religious leaders and members of all religions, as well as women, men, girls and boys and to challenge cultural and social norms that contribute to GBV and to jointly identify and carry out ways to prevent and respond to gender based violence and HIV in their communities.

SASA Faith! mobilises marginalised and hard-to-reach faith communities and aims to inspire everyone to put to practice the values of justice, peace and dignity in their relationships to end intimate partner violence and violence against children.

The programme also promotes GBV response efforts by working with traditional and formal structures to protect and assist survivors in their full recovery, and assist in the prosecution of their perpetrators. 

Trócaire in Malawi and its partners also work to eliminate or modify cultural practices which are harmful to women and girls, such as child marriage and rites of passage, which make women and girls more vulnerable to GBV and HIV. 

Key results in 2017 include:

  • Eight communities (in four districts) enacted bylaws against child marriage. At least 21 child marriages have been prevented or annulled by community activists, supported by Trócaire, in 2017.
  • 3,836 clients received telephone and follow up counselling services and referrals to appropriate GBV service providers through the national GBV helpline, supported by Trócaire. 

4. Humanitarian Preparedness and Response

Malawi is particularly vulnerable to climate change and frequently experiences hazards such as prolonged dry spells, seasonal droughts, intense rainfall and flooding.

Trócaire Malawi works firstly to build communities’ resilience to climatic shocks – particularly droughts and floods. In the event of humanitarian crises and disasters, Trócaire Malawi, in collaboration with our local partners, responds to ensure communities, particularly women, receive needs-based humanitarian assistance, for example: 

  • 7,070 households in the districts of Dedza, Machinga and Chikwawa were reached with food items during the 2015/16 drought, which left almost a third of the population of Malawi with food shortages. 
  • Following the devastating floods in Rumphi district in 2015, which left many homeless and without basic needs, Trócaire Malawi reached 3,000 households with food items including maize, beans, and corn-soya blend, a nutritious porridge for pregnant and lactating women and babies.

Malawi Resources

Policy, Programme and Education Resources


WATCH: Short video outlining Trócaire's Woman’s Empowerment Programme in Salima, Malawi

WATCH: 'Closer to People' - a look at Trócaire's governance and human rights work in Malawi

WATCH: Trócaire's 2014 Lent campaign video, highlighting our work to support marginalised communities in Malawi to gain access to water

WATCH: The Burning Question, documentary about the effects of climate change in Malawi

Our Funders in Malawi

Our Partners in Malawi

  • Area 55 Consulting
  • CADECOM Chikwawa
  • CADECOM Dedza
  • CADECOM Mangochi
  • CADECOM National Office
  • CADECOM Zomba
  • Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
  • Centre for Social Concern
  • Circle for Integrated Community Development
  • Civil Society Network on Climate Change
  • Coalition for Women Living With HIV and AIDS
  • Malawi Economic Justice Network
  • Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association
  • Society for Women and AIDS in Malawi
  • Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa
  • Women’s Legal Resources Centre
  • YouthNet and Counselling

Updates from Malawi

Malawi: Country Context

Malawi is a small, densely populated country in southern Africa. Despite some improvements in social and economic development, most Malawians continue to have a low standard of living. 71% of the population live below the World Bank global poverty line of US$1.90 a day and only 46% of children are estimated to finish primary school. 40% of the estimated 17.2 million population are under the age of 15 years. 

There is continued pressure on land which has led to limited space for farming and the keeping of livestock.  78% of all households who depend on agriculture are also at increased risk to the adverse effects of climate change due to changing rainfall patterns.

Recently, significant strides have been made with the adult HIV prevalence rate falling to approximately 10%, yet women and girls remain the most vulnerable to contracting HIV.

Malawi is gearing towards the 2019 elections which will be conducted at the threshold of both the 55th anniversary of independence and the 25th anniversary of the reintroduction of multiparty democracy.

Trócaire will work with local partners in the run up, during and aftermath of the elections to promote citizens engagement and participation.