CFSC Basic Needs Basket Press Statement

CFSC Basic Needs Basket Press Statement

CFSC Basic Needs Basket Press Statement 3rd September 2009

“Fight Poverty and Selfishness in Order to Stop Child Labour in Malawi”, the CFSC Demands

The majority of Malawi’s families living in both rural and urban areas are not able to afford the minimum requirements for a decent living in terms of good quality balanced diets, quality housing (spacious, well ventilated and not leaking in rainy times), decent clothing that includes good shoes, and clean, safe drinking water because the levels of income that they earn are often too low. This inability to live a full life, the full life that Jesus came to give us as in John 10:10, “…I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness” is what we call poverty. Poverty is an evil that, among other things, manifests itself into child labour: another evil which poor families accept as one way of escaping poverty while the rich use it selfishly as one way of increasing their wealth. Child labour in Malawi takes different forms among communities in both the urban and rural areas. Many young boys and girls are engaged in hazardous occupations despite the law prohibiting the employment of children under the age of 14 (in Malawi). For any work that is a potential hazard to children in terms of their health, safety, development, education or morals, our law prohibits from such employment children who are below the age of 18. The common occupations in Malawi include tenancy work on tea and tobacco estates, street vending, livestock herding, sexual exploitation and domestic work (where children, especially girls live in their employer’s households and work full time in exchange for room, food and, sometimes, a small wage).

In addition to the Malawi Law, the ILO Convention 138 also prohibits these practices and yet nothing much is done locally to protect the Malawian child, observes Chrissie Kafundu, Social Conditions Research Program Coordinator. This is a sign that the values of the Gospel – the fullness of life – have not penetrated far enough in the God-fearing Malawi to destroy the ruthless combination of poverty and selfishness that makes child labour possible. In addition to the call to respond to the outcomes of poverty in terms of poor people’s desperate need for balanced food diets, quality and adequate shelter and good water; every Malawian is called to take part in the work that will lead to changes in policies, structures, practices and systems that perpetuate social injustice. Be a good Malawian by emulating God by showing a special preference for the poor and the weak, including our poor children. Failure to act will worsen the gap already existing between the rich and the poor Malawian households.

Cost of Living

The CFSC Basic Needs Basket for the month of August indicate a positive picture in terms of urban cost of living, as this has either declined or remained almost stable in Malawi’s four cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba. Mzuzu has registered the highest drop in the cost of basic food items with the average price of a 50 kg bag of maize falling by K100 from K1, 930 to K1, 830 (5.2%); price of a kg of tomatoes has dropped by K58 from K159 to K101 (by 36.5%); price for a kg of beans has dropped by K23 from K278 to K255 (8.3%) and that of a kilogram of sweet potatoes/cassava has dropped by K12 from K34 to K22 (35.3%). The food basket for Mzuzu has declined by 6.8% from K24, 065 in July to K22, 425 in August and the total Basic Needs Basket has also fallen by 4.9% from K41, 271 in July to K39, 263 in August. Mzuzu has the lowest level of cost of living. For Lilongwe, the total cost of basic food items has also decreased by 3.6% from K25, 003 in July to K24, 112 in August, largely due to the 2.5% fall in the average price of maize (from K2, 000 to K1, 950) per bag of 50 kg; the 21.9% fall in the price of onions (from K334 to K261) per kilo and the 25.8% decrease in the price of green vegetables (from K89 to K66) per kg. The total cost of the Basic Needs Basket dropped by 1.7% from K48, 009 in July to K47, 172 in August.

Blantyre’s cost of living continues to be the highest in terms of both cost of food and cost of nonfood items. During the month, total cost of living for an average family of 6 went up slightly by 0.95% from K48, 163 to K48, 622 largely due to increasing cost of nonfood items such as water and housing. In Blantyre, the cost of nonfood items (at K24, 236) accounts for almost half of the total cost of living (49.9%). The food basket, however, has gone down by 2.5% from K25, 005 to K24, 386 due to a seasonal fall in the prices of green vegetables and dry fish. The average price of maize in Blantyre has remained stable at K2, 000 per 50 kg bag since June 2009. In Zomba, the cost of living has gone up 1.9% from K42, 918 in July to K43, 730 in August largely as a result of the 3.6% increase in cost of food items (from K21, 314 to K22, 088). The food basket rose due to a rise in the average prices of maize: from K1, 573 to K1, 675 (6.5%) per 50 kg bag; beans: from K204 to K220 (7.8%) per kilo; beef: from an average of K421 to K457 (8.6%) per kg and potatoes/cassava: from K18 to K29 (61%). Just like Blantyre, in Zomba the cost of nonfood items (at K21, 642) accounts for almost half of the total cost of living (49.5%). In the other two cities, especially in Mzuzu, food costs much more than nonfood items. (For a summary of comparisons in cost of living in four cities between January/February and July/August, please see graph below in the next page).

And always remember: BEST BUY MALAWI and you will promote local entrepreneurship and play a big role in the fight against poverty!

For More Information and feedback please contact: Chrissie Kafundu

Centre for Social Concern, Tel. +265 (0) 1 715 632

E-mail: or

Cost of Living Variations Among the Cities