Malawi is one of the world's least developed countries, with a poverty rate that is consistently high compared to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and declining at a slower pace.

The evaluations and reviews of aid to health and education report some positive results on the project and programme level. This also applies to other social infrastructure, services provision, and efforts in the agriculture sector.

Donors have invested heavily in malaria control activities, and it is likely that this has led to the decline in mortality among children under five years of age. Projects providing school teacher training and facilitates for girls has improved basic reading skills and gender balance in school enrolment.

More needs to be done to stimulate growth of the stagnant agricultural sector. Although projects at the grassroots level have raised incomes of poor households and boosted productivity, more needs to be done in terms of land redistribution, improved framework conditions, and government policies for the agricultural sector.

More needs to be done to stimulate the diversification of the economy. There are untapped opportunities in manufacturing (especially processing of agricultural produce), fisheries (including fish farming), forestry, mining, hydropower, and tourism.

In terms of service provision, evaluations and reviews report good results
at the project level. Some also report partial successes at the programme level. However, the long-term sustainability of service delivery is not ensured, as long as the government is unwilling and/or unable to take on the task.

General (direct) budget support has been ‘on-and-off’ three times since 1995
(and is currently ‘off’). Despite this, we have found no recent evaluations, by either bilateral or multilateral donors, on the effect of providing – or withholding – general budget support to Malawi.

None of the evaluations and reports can demonstrate that donors have been able to make significant changes at the political system level. Donor support to good governance and government efficiency has not transformed Malawi politics into an effective instrument of service delivery, strategic policy formulation, and efficient implementation of development-oriented policies.

This Country Evaluation Brief reviews and synthesises findings from a selection of evaluations and reports on development interventions in Malawi produced mainly since 2010.