Minister of State Peter Power opens Irish Embassy in Malawi and announces additional €10m aid package
Later today Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power T.D., will officially open a new Irish Embassy in Lilongwe, Malawi. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Joyce Banda MP, and Finance, Goodall Gondwe MP, are expected to participate in the ceremony.
Speaking in advance of the opening, Minister of State Power remarked:
“The opening of an Embassy in Malawi considerably strengthens our bilateral relations and our partnership in the development area. Irish Aid will finalise a comprehensive assistance strategy early next year. This is a tribute to the commitment of the Government of Malawi to reducing poverty and it is part of our joint effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals.”
Earlier today, Minister of State Power had an opportunity to meet with the President of Malawi, His Excellency Bingu wa Mutharika.
Minister Power also announced today an interim package of €10m in Irish Aid assistance for Malawi for 2008. The Minister commented:
“The package of support announced today will go a long way to helping the most vulnerable communities in Malawi to respond to food insecurity and rising food prices. It will also build on efforts to promote good governance. I am particularly pleased that Ireland will be supporting Malawi in its preparations for the national elections in May next year. I am delighted that we are in a position to offer this assistance at a crucial time for Malawi.”
The interim package of support for 2008 is very closely aligned with Malawi’s national plan for poverty reduction. It will provide a firm foundation for a multi-year programme of support to Malawi in the years ahead and will allow the country to respond to key challenges, including in the areas of agricultural production and rural development, to help offset rising food prices.
Yesterday the Minister of State visited Khulumgira village in Dedza District where he saw at first hand the benefit of funding from Irish taxpayers in improving food yields among vulnerable communities.
Seven of the nine Irish Aid programme countries are in Africa, reflecting the concentration of poverty on the continent. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and faces considerable development challenges including in the areas of HIV and AIDS, food security and education.
Note to Editors:
Ireland has provided significant humanitarian assistance to Malawi since 2002 when the country suffered a serious food crisis. Between 2002 and 2007, Irish Aid assistance totalled €27m.
The funding package of €10m announced today will focus on support for food security and vulnerability, governance and the One UN initiative. In addition, Irish Aid will provide €4.5m to non-governmental organisations based in Malawi this year through its Multi-Annual Programming and Block Grants schemes. These include Concern, Self-Help Development International, Trócaire and Goal.
Programmes and activities to be funded under the package announced today include:
a) €1 million in support of the 2009 Elections
b) €1.5 million for Food Security programmes in Central Region, implemented in cooperation with Concern Universal.
c) €320,000 for the introduction of new varieties of seed potato in Malawi, through the International Potato Centre.
d) €1 million to improve the fertility of soil, by organic means, in cooperation with the World Agro-Forestry Centre and the Ministry of Agriculture.
e) €400,000 for the implementation of a national micronutrients survey in partnership with the Office of the President & Cabinet and UNICEF, and in support of a pilot Vitamin A fortification programme.
f) €300,000 in support of the improvement of the quality of primary education in Mzuzu region, in cooperation with the Catholic Diocese of Mzuzu and the Ministry of Education.
g) €110,000 in support of Reforms within the UN System in Malawi, through the One UN Transformation Fund.
h) Opportunities for an Irish Aid contribution to the governmen’ts Agricultural Inputs Subsidy, in the order of approximately €1m are currently being advanced.
In addition, €2m of funding is earmarked for work in support of the National Population Census.
Irish Embassy in Malawi:
H.E Ambassador Liam MacGabhann presented credentials to His Excellency President Bingu wa Mutharika in November 2007, paving the way for the establishment of an Irish Embassy.
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