Even in times of austerity, when money is tight, it is important to help some of the world’s poorest people.
On 14 August, the SNP Government announced that more than £11 million will be provided to support local projects in Malawi focused on health, education, economic development and renewable energy.
While less than one thirtieth of 1% of Scotland’s budget, such funding will make a huge difference to the recipients.
The SNP Government’s Malawi Development Programme will fund 11 projects over the next four and a half years, delivered in partnership between Scottish-based organisations and their Malawian counterparts.
These projects include a partnership with Water Aid to improve the health of mothers and children through better sanitation and access to safe water in healthcare facilities and childhood development centres, as well as a collaboration between the University of Glasgow and University of Malawi to establish an undergraduate dental degree programme.
Of course, the SNP Government has been working in and building stronger links with Malawi for many years. This is just the latest in a long line of steps taken to strengthen the bond between our nations and counter absolute poverty in Malawi, a country with strong historic links to Scotland.
In Holyrood the Cross-Party Group on Malawi, of which I am a member, is one of the most active and well attended in the Scottish Parliament, with dozens of affiliates.
Regarding co-working with Malawi, one important scheme was at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, which allowed NHS Tayside to develop emergency and trauma units at all central hospitals in Malawi, to deliver a national emergency trauma network.
Over the years, hundreds of projects have been supported in Malawi, contributing to Millennium Development Goals and their successor, the United Nations Global Goals.
This newest funding allows this vital work to continue and in April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Malawi’s President Mutharika signed a partnership agreement to commit both governments to development cooperation across areas such as health, education, human rights, governance and social enterprise. This came thirteen years after the governments of Scotland and Malawi first signed a cooperation agreement.
During his week-long visit to Scotland, President Mutharika paid tribute to our strong civic-society links with Malawi. He addressed the Scottish Parliament and hailed the special partnership between Scotland and Malawi.
Dr David Livingstone travelled along the Zambezi and Shire Rivers to Lake Malawi in 1859. Almost half of Scots - 46% - can name a friend or family member with a connection to Malawi, as do many North Ayrshire schools, making this one of the world's strongest north-south people-to-people links.
The SNP Government aims to harness these links to deliver positive change. By working in collaboration with the people of Malawi we can assist the most vulnerable communities in improving their health and education systems and achieve long-term sustainable economic development.
The Scotland Malawi Partnership responded very positively to the announcement, with Chair Kenneth Ross OBE saying:
“Scottish organisations working with Malawian counterparts are making a distinctive contribution to countering poverty and meeting the challenge of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“SNP Government grants will significantly strengthen this effort and are much to be welcomed.”
Supporting international development is key to Scotland’s global contribution within the international community.
The SNP Government’s International Development Strategy supports communities not just in Malawi, but also in Zambia, Rwanda and Pakistan.
Ambitions for a fairer Scotland are undermined without global action to tackle poverty, promote prosperity and tackle climate change.
Funding for international development and humanitarian underlines the importance of Scotland being a good global citizen, determined to play our part in tackling global challenges.