TRAINING a new generation of medical students, raising awareness of the signs of deadly meningitis and helping farmers boost production of crops: these are some examples of the projects which have been undertaken since Scotland set up an official partnership with Malawi.
Next month it will be 10 years since the governments of Scotland and Malawi signed a cooperation agreement, with the aim of bringing benefits to both countries.
To mark the decade-long association, international development minister Humza Yousaf will this week travel to the African country to visit some of the projects and see the "real difference" which has been made to the lives of millions of Malawians.
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Work funded by the Scottish Government has included projects which have led to the quadrupling of the number of medics graduating in Malawi - from 16 to over 100 every year.
St Andrews and Edinburgh universities have also helped build capacity and strengthen teaching at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi's only medical school.
Medical staff working in Malawi have been trained to help spot the signs of early meningitis in children through a partnership with charity the Meningitis Research Foundation.
Other health projects have included a programme delivering cervical screening to more than 10,000 women and work to improve the treatment of mental illness, particularly post-natal depression, through the education and training of mental healthcare professionals.
Meanwhile a £2.3 million renewable energy project has delivered access to energy supplies nearly 80,000 people living in rural Malawi, through technologies such as solar power.
Education has also been a major focus of development, with work undertaken to establish new national educational standards in Malawi, while other projects have helped adults with disabilities to train in skills such as carpentry or tailoring and start up their own business.
And local farmers have also benefited from a project which has helped rural smallholders by planting thousands of trees, distributing banana plants and providing seeds which thrive under changing climate conditions.
There are now more than 700 members of the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) - including local authorities, schools, churches, hospitals, businesses and charities from across Scotland.
It is estimated more than 300,000 Scots and two million Malawians benefit each year from the activities of the SMP and sister organisation Malawi Scotland Partnership, which is based in Malawi.
Yousaf, who will visit the country tomorrow, said: “Scotland and Malawi have an important relationship and we can all be very proud of what we have achieved since our two countries signed the Cooperation Agreement a decade ago.
“People from all over Scotland are involved in our partnership with Malawi – whether they work for organisations on the ground or help to raise funds in their community.
“Every year more than 300,000 Scots and two million Malawian benefit from the work we do in partnership, in areas including education, health, agriculture and renewable energy.
“Scots have a long history of working with Malawians to alleviate poverty, which we should be very proud of, and I am looking forward to seeing how our work is continuing to make an impact and helping some the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world."
“I’m looking forward to meeting more of the people whose lives have been transformed by our partnership, and sharing their stories back in Scotland."
10 ways lives have been changed in Malawi
1. Medical training
The Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh have helped build capacity and strengthen teaching and learning at the College of Medicine in Blantyre and the number of medical graduates annually in Malawi has quadrupled from 16 to over 100.
2. Renewable Energy
The Scottish Government’s £2.3m flagship Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme has brought new energy access to almost 80,000 people in rural Malawi through a range of technologies including solar, micro-hydro, biogas and fuel efficient cookstoves.
3. Cervical screening
A project in Malawi delivered by NHS Lothian in partnership with Nkhoma Hospital and funded by the Scottish Government has provided cervical screening to more than 10,000 women and raised awareness on the importance of screening among 33,000 people.
4. Meningitis awareness
Training delivered by the Meningitis Research Foundation is helping medical professionals in Malawi spot the early signs of meningitis in children. Thanks to the scheme health care workers are better able to spot the early signs of the disease.
5. Vocational education
A project run by the Global Concerns Trust has given 106 adults with disabilities training in carpentry or tailoring and given 57 the tools they need to start up their business. Thanks to the scheme, 21 primary schools now also offer extra-curricular vocational training, all within rural areas.
6. Helping people earn a living
Another Global Concerns Trust project has given 62 people with disabilities vocational training, as well as training in business skills and HIV/AIDS. This training has helped people to earn a living, with an average more than fivefold increase in income for those trained.
7. Improving educational standards
Link Community Development Scotland have been working with the Malawian Department of Inspection and Advisory Services (DIAS) to establish the new National Education Standards (NES) to support education inspection and advisory services in Malawi.
8. Improving the treatment of mental illness
Since 2010, the Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project has worked to improve the treatment of mental illness through the education and training of mental healthcare professionals in Malawi, particularly focusing on improving the identification and treatment of maternal depression and post-natal depression. Its flagship achievement was to establish Malawi’s first ever Masters in clinical psychiatry at the College of Medicine in Blantyre.
9. Helping smallholders boost crops.
The James Hutton Institute has been delivering a project helping rural smallholders face up to climate change, establishing 100 Climate Smart Agriculture clubs which planted out 85,000 trees. As well as this, 2,000 banana plants were distributed to smallholders, and the project established of 480 home gardens and gave 30 farmers seeds which would thrive under changing climates.
10. Scotland Malawi Partnership and Malawi Scotland Partnership
The Scottish Government has supported the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) and its sister organisation the Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP), based in Malawi, for over a decade. Through the two organisations, more than 94,000 Scots and 198,000 Malawians work in partnership together each year, and each year more than 300,000 Scots and 2 million Malawians benefit from the activities of the SMP, MaSP and their members.