Food Security and Nutrition in Malawi: Policy Reform Within The Context of Supra- National Frameworks and Recent Domestic Developments

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May 28, 2019 - Author: Nic J.J. Olivier, , Francette Gouws, Nico Olivier, Elmarie van der Schyff and Anél Gildenhuys

Olivier, Mkandawire, Gouws, van der Schyff, Gildenhuys, 2019. Food Security & Nutrition in Malawi. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 133. East Lansing. Michigan State University

Within the context of the FSP Component 3 Activity 4 focus on policy change in the realm of food security and nutrition (FSN) in Malawi, the aim of this research paper is to determine the extent to which Malawi’s current constitutional, policy, legal and administrative FSN framework (including, amongst others, the Malawi’s National Agriculture Investment Plan II (NAIP2), the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (2017 – 2023) and the 2018 Malawi National Planning Commission) has succeeded in domesticating the FSN-related obligations and commitments entrenched in key international (global) regional (African) and sub-regional (SADC) instruments. It also aims at identifying gaps and formulating implementable recommendations that that may be considered by the Malawi Government in order to increase the probability that Malawi will be in a position to deliver fully and timeously on its (a) commitments made in respect of both the 2014 AU Malabo Declarations and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and (b) other key FSNrelated international, regional and sub-regional obligations and commitments.

The supra-national food security and nutrition context provides the framework for the discussion. Key international, regional and sub-regional FSN-related legally binding instruments and documents creating commitments are analysed with the aim of extracting FSN-related obligations and commitments. The manner in which the right to food is entrenched in the Constitution of Malawi will initiate the discussion on the national context. The extent to which the international, regional and sub-regional obligations and commitments are domesticated in Malawi’s national context is then addressed by providing an overview of current FSN-related policy and statutory frameworks. The impact of gender as well as accompanying theme-specific obligations relating to FSN is discussed. In conclusion, the last section contains a number of key research findings and focused implementable recommendations that may be considered by the Malawi Government.

The analysis of key aspects of the Malawi domestic FSN framework (the Malawi Constitution, the policy, legislative programme and institutional frameworks, as well as of three specific focus areas (gender, children, and health)), does not provide evidence of adherence to the sequential nature of the policy loop. In several instances, annual implementation (work) plans are not preceded by sectoral policies, sectoral legislation and/or medium-term sectoral implementation strategies. In addition, binding constitutional provisions are not, or not fully, embodied in the current Malawi constituent elements of the policy loop.

Furthermore, detailed provisions relating to both an overarching M&E framework (structure and systems) and concomitant customised sub-sector M&E frameworks (structures and systems), are often lacking. The analysis also indicates that there is a plethora of, amongst others, policies, statutory instruments, medium-term strategies, annual implementation (work) plans, institutions and of M&E indicator sets. These are often unconnected, incoherent and contradictory, and to a large extent uncoordinated - and consequently ineffective.

Given the vast powers of the autonomous Malawi National Planning Commission (NPC), it should provide guidance and oversight as regards compulsory compliance by all government departments with the policy loop. This has a number of implications, two of which are that:

i. The NPC should take responsibility for:

  • Drafting and finalising, as well as ensuring the subsequent political and administrative approval of, the next Malawi Long-term Development Plan (the successor to the current Vision 2020);
  • Amending the current Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MDGS III) to ensure full alignment with the next Malawi Long-term Development Plan; and
  • Drafting and finalising, as well as ensuring the subsequent political and administrative approval of, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy IV (MDGS IV),

ii. The NPC should ensure that all government departments and entities:

  • Review, amend and rationalise or, where appropriate, replace existing inter-sectoral and sectoral policies, legislation, medium-term strategic frameworks and annual implementation (work) plans with a view on aligning said documents with both the next Malawi Long-term Development Plan and the above-mentioned amended MDGS III. This also applies to the review and alignment of the Malawi NAIP II; and
  • After the approval of the MDGS IV, review, amend and rationalise or, where appropriate, replace then existing inter-sectoral and sectoral policies, legislation, medium-term strategic frameworks and annual implementation (work) plans with a view on aligning said documents with both the next Malawi Long-term Development Plan and the abovementioned amended (MDGS III).

As regards the domestication of, and compliance with, FSN-related obligations created by of global (international), African (regional) and SADC (sub-regional) conventions, treaties and protocols, the vast majority of instruments referred to in this section do not give evidence of such alignment. In many instances, no reference is made to the existence of the universal right to be free of hunger and such obligations. As far as commitments made by the Government of Malawi by it being a signatory to key FSN-related global, African and SADC declarations and agreements, very few Malawi instruments contain any references thereto. The recent (2018) Malawi NAIP forms an exception; although not dealing with all instances of Malawi’s FSN-related obligations and commitments, it does contain references to a number of such documents and, importantly, attempts alignment. It is suggested that the NPC by exercising its oversight role is empowered to compel all government entities to ensure both domestication and compliance with such obligations and commitments.

Finally, there is a significant lack of coherence at both the intra-departmental and the interdepartmental levels as regards the policy elements discussed in this section (medium-term growth and development strategy; sectoral policies; sectoral legislation; medium-term sectoral strategies; annual implementation (work) plans, and M&E structures and systems (including indicators)). From the coordination perspective, evidence of across-the-board effective intra-departmental and inter-departmental coordination mechanisms has not been found. Although the existence of supradepartmental coordinating mechanisms (at the political level chaired by the President or Deputy President, and at the administrative level by the most senior Malawi servant (i.e. the Directorgeneral in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC)) should go a long way in ensuring effective coordination, oversight and intervention, such well-functioning mechanisms do not at present exist. Taking into account the current absence of a transversal policy and statutory framework providing for the compulsory establishment and operationalisation of such supradepartmental coordinating mechanisms, it is proosed that such coordination, oversight and intervention should be undertaken by the NPC in the execution of its statutory mandate.

In conclusion, the overarching research finding is that there is an urgent need to rationalise all Malawi FSN instruments and institutions, and replace same with an overarching FSN framework that is fully aligned to:

i. The international, African and SADC obligations and commitments framework and the Malawi Constitution; and

ii. The Malawi long-term national development plan (currently Vision 2020) and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MDGS III) (both of which also require alignment with the above-mentioned obligations and commitments framework and the Malawi Constitution), 

and satisfy the requirements of coherence and effective coordination. It is suggested that the NPC should, as an inherent part of its statutory mandate, take the responsibility to initiate and manage this rationalisation process as a high priority

In addition to the above, a number of key research findings and related recommendations are made.

The complete research report on which this Working Paper is based is available at: http://bit.ly/2W0xhRI.

 

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Tags: agrifood system transformation, c3, cross-cutting-climate change, cross-cutting-gender, cross-cutting-nutrition, fsg research paper, fsp research paper, impact assessment, input use and market development, land, nutrition, sustainable agricultural intensification


Related Topic Areas

Cross-country, C3


Authors

Nic Olivier

Nic Olivier
oliviern@mweb.co.za

Elizabeth Mkandawire

Elizabeth Mkandawire
elimka23@gmail.com


For more information visit:

Food Security Group
Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy

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