Lord McConnell lecture to celebrate 15 years of Scotland-Malawi partnership

20 Nov 2020
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The 15th anniversary of the reinvigorated Scotland-Malawi collaboration agreement will be celebrated at the University of Strathclyde with a guest lecture by former First Minister of Scotland, The Right Honourable Lord Jack McConnell of Glenscorrodale.

Sign up to attend the event here.

During the lecture, entitled ‘Leave No One Behind: A roadmap to build back better’, on Tuesday 24th  November, Lord McConnell will reflect on the Scotland-Malawi partnership and its development since 2005.

He will also explore the wider global struggles and challenges that we face today, and especially in the coming decade to 2030 in the light of the continuing global health crisis. He will reflect on the successes and the challenges faced in meeting the United Nation’s (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The challenge of attaining the Millennium Development Goals – the forerunners to the UN’s current    SDGs – was first taken up in Scotland in the late 1990s by Strathclyde, when it launched the Malawi Millennium Project. Since that time, Scotland has widely embraced the SDG challenge.

Lord McConnell said: “Fifteen years after the signing of the Scotland Malawi Partnership I am delighted to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the thousands of people who have made this partnership real, far beyond the work of the two governments. 2020 has shown just how interdependent our world is so my lecture will also address the need for a global recovery and resilience plan to build back better.”

Dr Tracy Morse, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Development, said: “Scotland has long standing links with Malawi, and we’ve been eager to work together to help Malawi overcome some of the challenges it faces, particularly in the areas of water, energy and health.

“This Anniversary is about the totality of our Malawi partnerships. It is to mark the great work that was done by everyone in 2005 to reinvigorate the relationship between our two countries. It is about all the partnerships between Scottish and our Malawian partners: embracing all the key contributions in that year of the Scottish Government and of our newly-formed national civil society network, the Scotland Malawi Partnership, and of our wider Scottish society.

“Vital to us is the mutually-beneficial relationship we have developed with our partners in Malawi, to help us in our mission of ‘useful learning’, building our knowledge, skills and understanding. We’re delighted to celebrate 15 years of the Scotland-Malawi partnership and look forward to many more years of working together to transform people’s lives.”

Today, Strathclyde’s links with Malawi are a strong as ever, with a number of ongoing projects aimed at helping the country tackle some of its biggest challenges and meet the SDGs.

Staff and students play a key role in the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund’s Water Futures Programme.

Led by Strathclyde, through Programme Director Professor Bob Kalin, and including Scottish Water and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the aim of the Programme is to support the Government of Malawi to provide clean drinking water for its citizens.

Professor Kalin has led a team that is mapping and evaluating every single rural water supply asset in the country to check for functionality and safety.

To date they have evaluated the water supplies for around four million people. By this time next year that figure should stand at 10 million.

Engineers are also bringing electricity to citizens, where only 18% of the population have access to electricity supply. A recently installed a solar PV microgrid is providing power to the village of Mthembanji in the Dedza District in Malawi’s Central Region for the first time.

The project, led by Research Associate, Aran Eales, linked 60 households and businesses to a 12kW microgrid providing for domestic and commercial use including lights, phone charging and TVs and fridges. The project was part of the £1.3 million Scottish Government funded Rural Energy Access through Social Enterprise and Decentralisation project (EASE).

The installation marks the first step in a new social enterprise strategy to provide sustainable energy access to one million people over the next 10 years. It comes after previous collaborations between Strathclyde and NGO United Purpose funded under the Scottish Government’s International Development programme, including the Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme (MREAP) which resulted in almost 80,000 people in rural Malawi obtaining improved access to electricity.

And Dr Tracy Morse, who lived in Malawi for 20 years, heads a number of preventive health related projects with partners at the WASHTED Centre in the University of Malawi, which are continuing to develop context appropriate solutions for the most vulnerable in Malawi.

These include the Chikwawa Health Initiative, the Hygienic Family programme, and DRUM (Drivers of Antimicrobial Resistance in Uganda and Malawi). These community based programmes address issues related to maternal health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and disease control and prevention, through behaviour change, capacity building and supporting capital investment.

The collaborative team have also developed national guidance and training toolkits for the Government of Malawi from the research undertaken.

She is now leading a project examining the impact of COVID-19 on health centre delivery in urban and rural areas Blantyre, commercial capital of Malawi, in partnership with the District Health Office.

Strathclyde is also a partner in the SPACES project – just announced last week by funders UKRI and led by Stirling University – to look at waste practices in Malawi and Tanzania to understand the public health risks and environmental impacts of plastic pollution.

To register to watch the lecture visit: https://ewds3.strath.ac.uk/conferencingandevents/Registrations/Scotland-Malawi-Partnership-15th-Anniversary