Malawi map


  • 62.1%
    Adult literacy rate*
  • 172 out of 189
    Human Development Index ranking*
  • 70.3%
    People living on less than $1.90 per day*

Why we work in Malawi

Many of Malawians live below the poverty line and rely on subsistence farming. The region is vulnerable to the impact of extreme weather conditions, particularly floods and drought. Malnutrition is a real issue for many Malawians and life expectancy remains stubornly low. The country has also been badly affected by the HIV-AIDS epidemic with an estimated one million children orphaned by the disease, and infection rates remain high.

In 1994 Malawi announced universal primary education and school enrolment is rising, however over 50% of children leave school before completing their primary education and few go on to attend secondary school. Universal education has put pressure on class sizes, which are often over 100 pupils. Resources such as books and learning materials are stretched and educational quality has suffered from these higher enrolments.

We work to create access to books across the country in schools, libraries, communities and hospitals with our main partner, the Malawi National Library Service (MNLS).

Our work in Malawi

Our main partner in Malawi is Malawi National Library Service (MNLS), with whom we have built up a strong and dynamic partnership. Most of the books we send to Malawi are distributed through MNLS which has a network of 16 branch libraries across the country. MNLS also distributes books to primary and secondary schools, further and higher education institutions, medical institutions and other NGOs.

Through MNLS we support 16 public libraries in Malawi, supplying books for a range of ages and interests, from board books for babies through to books on agricultural techniques and health information.

Introducing children to reading 

In addition to providing books for general collections in public libraries in Malawi, our Children’s Corners programme is creating vibrant and welcoming spaces for children in African public libraries, providing brand new books from the UK and purchased locally, grants for library refurbishment and training for librarians in children’s services. Find out more about Children’s Corners

Books for schools and universities in Malawi

Many of the books we send to Malawi are for schools and these are distributed to a network of primary and secondary schools by MNLS.

Through direct partnerships and through MNLS we supply academic books to 46 higher and further education institutions. Higher education is a growing sector in Malawi as many people seek to develop their skills and prospects for the future. The books we send enable students to study and further their research with relevant up-to-date academic texts.

Inspiring Readers across Malawi

Thousands of Malwian children have books in their classrooms thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme. Inspiring Readers establishes Book Box Libraries full of brand new, carefully selected books in schools where pupils would otherwise share just a few old tattered textbooks. In addition, we train teachers in how to bring those books to life in the classroom and connect each school with a local Children’s Corner where a specially trained librarian can provide on-going support for the school and its pupils. Inspiring Readers in Malawi is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Find out more about Inspiring Readers

Supporting better health information in Malawi

We also send medical books to three medical institutions: St John of God College of Health Sciences, the University of Malawi College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing.


*UN Human Development Index 2019


2019 in Numbers


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