Malawi

Malawi flag

About

Peace Corps Volunteers in front of plane.
Peace Corps Volunteers arrive in Malawi (1964) under the leadership of Country Director James Blackwell (center-left in the white suit).
Retro picture of early Volunteers
Art Weinstein (right), RPCV Malawi 1964-1966
Group of Peace Corps Trainees with Peace Corps flag
Peace Corps Volunteers arrive in Malawi (2019).
RPCV Tony Smith & a female student
Tony Smith (left), RPCV Malawi 2017-2019

The mission of the Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship. Peace Corps Volunteers advance this mission by partnering with Malawian colleagues to address the country's stated development priorities; sharing American culture with Malawians; and sharing Malawian culture with Americans.

At the invitation of the Government of Malawi, the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in 1963. Volunteers at that time worked in education, teaching at elementary and high schools, as well as at the university. They were also assigned as road engineers, agricultural extension agents, and health educators. Among almost any group of Malawians who grew up in the 60s and 70s, it is nearly universal that you can find someone who was once a student of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, the Peace Corps program has grown considerably in Malawi. Since 1963, more than 3,000 Volunteers have served in Malawi in all districts from Chitipa in the North to Chikwawa in the South. It is not uncommon for returned Peace Corps Volunteers to continue visiting their Malawian host communities long after their service has ended, and many will agree that there is a special connection to this country that lasts a lifetime.

At the request of the Government of Malawi, Peace Corps Volunteers partner with Malawian community members, institutions, and organizations to address the government's priority development issues among three programmatic sectors: Education, Environment, and Health. Peace Corps/Malawi welcomes traditional 2-year Volunteers, Peace Corps Response Volunteers (including Advancing Health Professionals as well as healthcare professionals participating in the Nursing Leadership Initiative), and Virtual Service Participants.

Projects in Malawi

Education

Strong English language skills increase educational and professional opportunities for people in Malawi, where English becomes the medium of instruction at grade 5. However, in many primary and secondary schools, there are challenges to teaching English Language skills. As teaching colleagues in rural secondary schools, English Literacy Volunteers collaborate with teachers to help students attain the communication skills in English necessary to access academic and/or professional opportunities. As integrated members of their communities, Volunteers can also be catalysts to organize activities and events so that community members have opportunities to be involved in school and community activities focused on student learning and school improvements.

Environment

Environmental Education and Food Security Volunteers work with individuals and communities to sustainably manage their natural resources to improve food and nutrition security and increase resiliency to environmental shocks and stresses. As representatives of Extension Planning Areas as well as members of their communities, Environmental Education and Food Security Volunteers have a unique opportunity to work directly with target groups that can actively combat Malawi’s environmental and food security issues though participatory low-cost, sustainable, and replicable interventions. Volunteers work directly with two vulnerable yet influential groups (i.e., youth in primary and secondary schools and mothers) to mitigate food shortages, malnutrition, and deforestation in their communities. Volunteers achieve this by partnering with schools to teach environmental and nutrition education to youth, constructing gardens that teach sustainable agricultural practices and provide dietary diversity to students, as well as conducting environmental awareness and tree planting campaigns. Volunteers also work directly with mother groups to strengthen their households’ food and nutritional security and management of natural resources.

Health

The majority of Malawi’s people live below the poverty line and are exposed to four major public health issues in their daily lives: HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and diarrheal diseases resulting from poor hygiene. These threats are especially true for two targeted groups: children under-5 and adolescent youth (9-19). Traditional two-year Volunteers live as members of their communities and work at their community health center. From this integrated position, they work directly with health center staff to strengthen youth-friendly health systems at the health center supporting the goal that children and youth are able to lead healthy lives in Malawi.

Peace Corps Response

Peace Corps Response sends experienced professionals to undertake short-term, high-impact service assignments in communities around the world.  Peace Corps Response Volunteers are expected to possess the technical skills needed to fulfill their assigned role with minimal training.

Peace Corps/Malawi Response Volunteers address needs in strategic areas including HIV/AIDS prevention, environmental management and climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness, youth development, and systems strengthening.

Advancing Health Professionals (AHP) is a specialized Peace Corps Response program that seeks to improve health outcomes on a societal level by assigning Volunteers to non-clinical assignments to enhance skills in specialized positions that enhance the quality of health care. In Malawi, in partnership with Malawi’s Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Education, AHP Volunteers who are experienced healthcare professional help bridge classroom theory and applied practice for nursing and medical students, as well as other cadres of health workers.

Nursing Leadership Initiative

Peace Corps/Malawi is also engaged in building capacity among nurse leaders under the Nursing Leadership Initiative. The initiative aims to elevate and equip the nursing workforce in Malawi with the appropriate leadership skills to contribute to ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 and to protect the potential disruption of HIV service delivery by other emerging public health threats.

Virtual Service

The Virtual Service Pilot connects qualified U.S. citizens with host country counterparts to meet partner requests in new ways – from supplementing on-the-ground Volunteer efforts to reaching regions where Volunteers cannot go.  Participants collaborate virtually with counterparts to complete project tasks, donating 5 – 15 hours per week for 3 – 6 months.

To learn more about Peace Corps’ work in Malawi, check out our Annual Reports: