This, the Bank said when it launched its 10th edition of Malawi Economic Monitor (MEM) in Lilongwe on Thursday, “will continue to lead to lower wages and lost economic output in the future."
The edition, themed ‘Strengthening Human Capital Through Nutrition, observes how stunting “bears a considerable ongoing consequences for children’s future development and health, with significant implications on economic and social development, including country-level economic losses fro some income of up to 3 percent of GDP.”
According to the MEM, “ it is crucial to interrupt the inter-generational transmission of stunting by priotizing women’s health and nutrition.”
“It is vital to reduce or eliminate early marriages, delay pregnancy among adolescents and ensure pregnant women have access to better nutrition and care throughout their pregnancy,” the MEM analysis says.
The analysis further suggests that it was important to improve livelihoods and resilience to promote access to and consumption of diverse diets among young children, “especially in the first 100 days of life.”
“Children born in Malawi today will on average be less than half as productive as they would have been with access to good health and quality education,” said Greg Toulmin, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi.
“Investing in nutrition is an important part of a multi-sectoral approach to address this shortfall, and build Malawi’s human capital so that the country can compete in the future, global economy,” Toulmin added.
In monitoring recent economic developments, the MEM notes that with Malawi’s economic growth recovering and single digit inflation, the Government has an opportunity to “rein in fiscal deficits and reduce domestic debt.”
Public domestic debt increased to 32.6 % of GDP in 2019, up from 28.4% in 2018.
The Bank says improving fiscal discipline was necessary to sustain macro-stability and to reduce domestic debt, “thereby also reducing pressure on interest rates.”
However, the bank says achieving the budgeted deficit of 2.5 % for FY 2019/20 will be a challenge “due to optimistic revenue projections for the budget, and it will call for carefully prioritizing expenditure over the fiscal year to avoid a sizeable fiscal deficit.”
But if capital Hill can control domestic debt levels, the Bank says the Government “could increasingly move towards creating the conditions for the private sector to increase investment which can drive growth and job creation.”
Malawi's economy, dependent on agriculture which contributes up to 35% to the national income, needs to grow by 6 % percent annually in order to create wealth and jobs.