• Rory Stewart pointed to Malawi as example of UK’s foreign aid policy failure
  • Struggling Southern African nation was for years a darling of the aid industry
  • Western donors froze aid after politicians stole millions in ‘cashgate’ scandal

‘The British Government has spent something in the region of £4.5 billion over the past 50 years and Malawi is, if anything, poorer than it was when we started,’ he told Yale University.

This struggling Southern African nation has one of the highest population densities on the planet and was for years a darling of the aid industry, with aid accounting for almost half of its budget.

Even the Scottish government has chipped in £11 million.

Rory Stewart pointed to Malawi, the sixth-poorest country in the world, as an example of the failure of our foreign aid policy

Rory Stewart pointed to Malawi, the sixth-poorest country in the world, as an example of the failure of our foreign aid policy

Yet it has been plagued by bad governance and corruption.

Western donors froze aid six years ago after bureaucrats and politicians stole millions in a so-called ‘cashgate’ scandal, which looted one-third of the nation’s budget and led to 70 arrests.

One man investigating the scandal was shot, while documents were stolen from a German official helping to probe the theft.

The International Monetary Fund said the fraud helped stymie the country’s development.

Last year Saulos Chilima, Malawi’s vice-president, accused the president, Peter Mutharika, of corruption.

His claims included allegations of kickbacks over a £3 million police contract. The claims, which he outlined to me later in London, were denied.

This struggling Southern African nation (pictured) has one of the highest population densities on the planet and was for years a darling of the aid industry, with aid accounting for almost half of its budget

This struggling Southern African nation (pictured) has one of the highest population densities on the planet and was for years a darling of the aid industry, with aid accounting for almost half of its budget

Dfid spends about £65 million a year on Malawi’s 19 million people, claiming British aid has ‘a demonstrable impact and is highly cost-effective’.

Yet the department’s confidential 2016-2020 business plan for Malawi, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, admits the political climate ‘is not conducive to supporting sustained poverty reduction.

It adds that ‘corruption is widespread’ and accepts there is serious risk of instability, declining human rights, deteriorating government, ‘poor or no delivery of our programmes’, and ‘loss of Dfid funds due to fraudulent or corrupt activities’.

Despite this, officials pledged that Dfid would help deliver a ‘stable Malawi with more accountable institutions’ by next year, along with ‘increased job opportunities’.

In recent days there have been reports of attacks on albinos ahead of an election this month, with one man dismembered in front of his son.

Albino body parts are sold for huge sums to politicians, who believe they boost their chances of winning.

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