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International Development Fund
An independent review of projects run by Scottish organisations in Malawi shows that the Scottish Government's International Development Fund (IDF) is making real contributions to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It confirms that although the scale of Scotland's contribution is relatively small its grant-funded projects are having direct, positive impacts on the lives of people in Malawi.
Minister for External Affairs Michael Russell said:
"I am delighted to see this evidence of the valuable impact our modest support is having in Malawi. This is a really positive assessment of the viability and rationale of the International Development Fund.
"The many examples of effective project delivery highlighted in the review demonstrate the dedication of the Scottish organisations operating in Malawi and the strength of the partnerships they have built.
"The review emphasises the importance of projects being well targeted and focusing on a genuine partnership. Scotland can be proud of its role in improving the lives of people in Malawi. With the continued support of the Scottish Government our special relationship with Malawi continues to flourish."
Examples in the review of projects contributing to achievement of the MDGs include Scottish International Relief's very successful Mary's Meals programme. Benefitting from £240,841 from the IDF over the last three years, the programme delivers free school meals to a quarter of a million Malawian primary school children, in communities where poverty and hunger prevent access to education.
The review shows Mary's Meals helping to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger (MDG1) and at the same time enabling children to attend school, contributing to achievement of universal primary education (MDG2).
The Government of Malawi has indicated that it wishes to extend this project nationally, and the Scottish Government has recently announced that Mary's Meals will receive £400,000 over three years to expand the programme.
Ruth Black of Mary's Meals said:
"Thanks to the generous grant and continued support received from the Scottish Government, Mary's Meals made great headway in our aim of reaching every hungry child in Malawian schools. We have seen a significant improvement in both the numbers of children enrolling in school, attendance and exam passes.
"This underlines the huge difference a daily meal in school can make to children suffering from poverty. The Scottish Government's support has opened up new horizons for thousands of children in Malawi."
The review highlights that the most successful projects were truly equal partnerships drawing on the technical expertise of the Scottish partners and the regional knowledge of Malawian partners.
The Scotland Malawi Trade Partnership (SMTP) programme, which benefitted from IDF support of £202,000 over two years is highlighted as a good example. Using the business expertise of the Scottish partner Imani Enterprise, this programme has assisted with sustainable business growth in Malawi and facilitated trade movements between the two countries.
The project culminated in a Trade Connections event at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in November 2007, bringing together key Scottish buyers and producers from Malawi to discuss business opportunities and place firm orders for Malawian and Fairtrade products.
Imani Enterprise has recently been allocated an additional 400,000 pounds IDF grant over the next three years to assist with continued sustainable business growth in Malawi.
Murdoch Gatward, Managing Director of Imani Enterprise, said:
"The SMTP has been established to facilitate fair trade between Scotland and Malawi. The funding received from the Scottish Government for three years will see eight products established in Scotland. The first product, 17 tonnes of rice, arrived for Fairtrade Fortnight. The SMTP team are also working towards having a stand at the Royal Highland Show this year linking Malawi fair trade and Scottish farming. This will be with the Scottish Fair Trade Forum who are working towards Scotland becoming a Fair Trade Nation by the end of 2010."
The University of Edinburgh's healthcare e-learning project is also highlighted in the review as being based on an effective partnership.
This project received IDF support of £176,000 over two years and sees the University and NHS Education Scotland work with the Malawi College of Medicine to modernise its medical programme through use of e-learning and the sharing and building of electronic teaching resources and IT systems. The project continues with funding amounting to £397,643 over the next three years and will now increase its partnership element to dovetail with another IDF-funded project run by the University of St Andrews.
Project Leader Professor David Dewhurst explained:
"The funding from the IDF has enabled us to develop and deliver online interactive teaching and learning materials for their increasing number of students, building capacity among medical and healthcare professionals educators in Malawi. This was a new venture for all of the teaching staff involved and one they have found exciting, demanding and very fulfilling.
"The Malawian teachers will pass on the skills and knowledge they have gained to their academic colleagues. Students will benefit enormously from the access they will have to high-quality online learning resources."