British Government has sent £4.5 billion to Malawi – but it’s now ‘poorer than it was when we started’-British MP

Rory Stewart pointed to Malawi as example of UK’s foreign aid policy failure Struggling Southern African nation was for years a darling of the aid industryWestern donors froze aid after politicians stole millions in ‘cashgate’ scandal

Rory Stewart pointed to Malawi, the sixth-poorest country in the world, as an example of the failure of our foreign aid policy.

‘The British Government has spent something in the region of £4.5 billion over the past 50 years and Malawi is, if anything, poorer than it was when we started,’ he told Yale University.

This struggling Southern African nation has one of the highest population densities on the planet and was for years a darling of the aid industry, with aid accounting for almost half of its budget.

Even the Scottish government has chipped in £11 million.

Yet it has been plagued by bad governance and corruption.

Western donors froze aid six years ago after bureaucrats and politicians stole millions in a so-called ‘cashgate’ scandal, which looted one-third of the nation’s budget and led to 70 arrests.

The International Monetary Fund said the fraud helped stymie the country’s development.

Last year Saulos Chilima, Malawi’s vice-president, accused the president, Peter Mutharika, of corruption.

His claims included allegations of kickbacks over a £3 million police contract. The claims, which he outlined to me later in London, were denied.

Dfid spends about £65 million a year on Malawi’s 19 million people, claiming British aid has ‘a demonstrable impact and is highly cost-effective’.

Yet the department’s confidential 2016-2020 business plan for Malawi, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, admits the political climate ‘is not conducive to supporting sustained poverty reduction.

It adds that ‘corruption is widespread’ and accepts there is serious risk of instability, declining human rights, deteriorating government, ‘poor or no delivery of our programmes’, and ‘loss of Dfid funds due to fraudulent or corrupt activities’.

Despite this, officials pledged that Dfid would help deliver a ‘stable Malawi with more accountable institutions’ by next year, along with ‘increased job opportunities’.

In recent days there have been reports of attacks on albinos ahead of an election this month, with one man dismembered in front of his son.

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