You are here: Home Countries Malawi


About Malawi

Malawi’s population of 13.2 million is predominantly rural with 83 percent of the population living in rural areas.
About Malawi

Malawi country profile- WHO Global Status on Alcohol & Health 2014

The country’s population growth rate is 2.8 percent per annum. The economy has an annual national budget approximately $1.8 billion, a current average annual growth rate of 7 percent, and per capita gross domestic product GDP at $160 and mainly agricultural (35 percent of GDP).  On the Human Poverty Index, Malawi is ranked as number 164 of 177 countries, which makes it the 13th poorest country in the world (UNDP 2007/2008).Approximately 90% of the population live in rural areas (Loeb & Eide 2004).

Alcohol consumption and its effects in Malawi

There is limited data on the extent to which alcohol is a problem in Malawi. In 2009 a nationwide STEPS survey (MoH & WHO) showed that of people aged 24 to 64, 30.1% of males and 4.1% of females consume alcohol while 19.2% and 2.3% males and females respectively are considered heavy drinkers.

Evidence from the same STEPS survey does show that Non Communicable Diseases such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes are a growing problem /challenge in Malawi. Currently the Ministry of Health is not collecting any data on the health related problems directly associated with alcohol. Information from Malawi Police Service through unpublished reports shows that alcohol plays a significant role in crime in the country.

The WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol & Health 2014 indicates that 42.6% of male and 40.2% of female deaths from liver cirrhosis were linked to high alcohol intake. 11.6% male and 1.3% female victims of road accident deaths were as a result of alcohol.

A2011 report shows that alcohol was linked to 25% in murders, 40% of suicides, 27% of road traffic accidents, 7% of sexual; assault cases and 38 percent of physical assault cases.  The ALMA Study (Fighting Poverty through alcohol misuse prevention in Malawi) conducted by SINTEF Technology and Society of Norway in collaboration with the Centre for Social Research of the University of Malawi 2011 -2013, revealed that although few people consume alcohol in Malawi (14% of the population) the few consume alcohol excessively and thus putting the country among the highest consumers in Southern Africa.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.

Drug Fight Malawi

In April 2008, Drug Fight Malawi, an NGO that was implementing a project on “Alcohol harm prevention among in and-out of school youths”, called for an Alcohol Stakeholders’ meeting.

The purpose was to consider the position, role and conflict of interests that emerged since the alcohol industry had been involved in drafting an alcohol policy for the country. The meeting also shared the lessons and experiences from work implemented by the organization. Following consultation with civil society and government on the issue of the alcohol industry’s participation in policy development, it was suggested that a task force be established to steer an evidence-based alcohol policy development process for Malawi.

National Alcohol Task Force (NATC)

The Committee included key representation of government policy leaders, civil society networks and health professionals with clear terms of reference for facilitating the development of alcohol policy.

A baseline survey on Unrecorded Alcohol to clearly describe key dimensions in respect of production, use and consequences of unrecorded alcohol in Malawi was conducted. The study revealed that unrecorded alcohol poses serious socio-economic challenges, and is therefore, a threat to national development. It further showed that violence was the major risk associated with unrecorded alcohol consumption; particularly perpetrated against family members as well as friends. It also demonstrated that most users do not have a stable source of income and have experienced or perpetrated violence; their drinking is influenced by peers and many believe that if they stopped taking alcohol they could prosper.


Drug Fight Malawi hosted an international training workshop on evidence-based alcohol policies as well as a Train the Trainers program on alcohol policy for the NATC. The training was conducted by FORUT and Blue Cross Norway.

Malawi became the first country to test such a training package. This has subsequently been used in a number of African countries.

In addition, some members of NATC attended an international conference on developing evidence-based alcohol policies in Oslo, Norway and Kampala, Uganda in 2010. The WHO Regional Office for Africa funded the presence of Drug Fight Malawi at this conference where the results of the survey on Unrecorded Alcohol were presented.


The committee conducted district-based consultations to collect people’s views on the proposed policy between October 2009 and April 2011.

Traditional chiefs, Members of Parliament, district government officers, civil society organizations, youth and women groups, political and religious leaders and the media were consulted. In line with Government policy guidance, the NATC conducted consultation meetings with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drugs Control to validate policy positions.


The National Alcohol Policy Taskforce Committee (NATC) hosted a review meeting to reflect on the emerging issues from the National Validation Conference.

The Committee noted the need for consolidated country baseline data as well as the need to review comments from the Alcohol Industry. As a result of the Review meeting: A 3-month Alcohol Impact Baseline Survey (AIBS) was commissioned to collect data for broadening the scope of the policy problem statement.

Malawi Policy on Alcohol

The processes undertaken by Drug Fight Malawi and its partner organisations including government resulted in the Final Draft National Alcohol Policy being completed.

This was handed over to the Ministry of Health in late 2011 for adoption by The Office of the President and Cabinet. The Ministry of Health has been completing final changes to the draft National Alcohol Policy together with technical officers from the Office of the President and Cabinet. On completion, this draft policy will be presented to Cabinet for adoption. Malawi will soon have a National Alcohol Policy.

Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance (MAPA)

After handing over of the Final Draft National Alcohol Policy to the Ministry of Health, civil society organizations led by Drug Fight Malawi took the decision to establish an alliance.

The purpose of the alliance was to enable them to collectively advocate for the National Alcohol Policy to be made into law and to ensure that all parties work together to implement the policy when it becomes law.

The Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance (MAPA) was registered by the Government of Malawi under Trustees Incorporation Rules of the Republic on 5th December in 2012.  It is a Network of NGOs throughout the country and has a membership of 87 NGOs. MAPA has opened offices in all the three Region of the country and has its Head office in Lilongwe.


Current Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance activities

  • Information sharing among NGOs with information regarding the reduction of harmful use of alcohol
  • Lobbying the government to pass the draft National Alcohol Policy
  • Identifying other partners to form become MAPA members
  • Engaging  the media on a issues around the alcohol policy

Malawi country profile - WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014

Statistics on alcohol consumption, its impact and policy in Malawi