Long term development planning in Malawi is currently guided by the vision 2020 and is implemented through 5-year medium term development strategies. In 2018, the Government of Malawi launched the fourth Medium term strategy, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III (2017-2022). The theme for MGDS III is “Building a Productive, Competitive and Resilient Nation”. The strategy has 5 Key Priority Areas (KPA) and population has been recognized as one of the key priority areas under the KPA number 5, Health and Population. This strengthens the idea that Population is considered as a development issue in Malawi. The other four KPAs are: Agriculture, Water Development and Climate Change Management; Education and Skills Development; Energy, Industry and Tourism Development; and Transport and ICT Infrastructure.
The goal of the Health and Population KPA in MGDS III is to improve health and quality of the population for sustainable socio-economic development. The expected outcomes that will lead to the achievement of the goal include: Slowed population growth; Skilled and empowered youth population; Increased maternal, neonatal, infant and child survival; Increased policy and legislative measures; Effective population and development planning at all levels; and Increased awareness on population and development.
The MGDS III points out that when population growth outpaces economic development, it puts enormous strain on the economy. The high population growth rate has produced an overwhelming demand for national resources, jobs and social services. With 46 percent of the population under the age of 15, there is a high child dependency ratio. Government investment in services, such as education, health among others, for families, children and young adults has been inadequate. Aggressive investment in youth development is called for to reduce the dependency ratio and empower youth to contribute to the national economy.