Scottish Parliament Ministerial statement on Covid support for Malawi

24 November 2021

On the 23rd November 2021 Jenny Gilruth MSP gave a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament about the Scottish Government’s “International Development COVID-19 Support — partner countries and humanitarian responses”.

Minister Gilruth spoke passionately about the Scottish Government’s support for Malawi, and its other development partner countries, through the Covid crisis. There was strong appreciation from the government and all five political parties as to the importance of the cross party support that exists for this work.

During the Minister’s update, the Scottish Government committed a further £1.5 million of its existing international development fund this financial year, to specifically target initiatives responding to Covid-19 in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.

Other highlights from Minister Gilruth’s speech included:

  • “The challenges the virus continues to present for wealthy countries - like Scotland - can in no way compare to those the virus has presented to some of the poorest countries in the world. It is, therefore, incumbent on wealthy nations like ours, to work together to ensure that those with the least are not failed by those with the most.”
  • “To ensure we both do no harm and in fact contribute impactfully we must therefore listen to the needs of those in the Global South – and act on their ambitions for recovery.”
  • “We remain fully committed to playing our part in tackling shared global challenges, and to international solidarity.
  • “As the global pandemic continues, now is not the time to turn our back on the global south.”
  • “When I reflect on what has been achieved this month, it‘s clear that the need for Internationalism has never been more important.”
  • “Listening to the voices of the people who live in our partner countries was absolutely vital to ensuring we got our Covid response right.”
  • “It is absolutely vital that we create the conditions for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines”
  • “We also plan to treble the Climate Justice Fund to £36 million over the course of the Parliament – in recognition that those with the least often pay the highest costs when it comes to the impacts of Climate Change.”
  • "The [Scottish Government’s international development policy] review therefore committed to establish a Global South Panel, which will directly advise and challenge Government on our International Development offer. I am pleased to announce today that the first two members of the Panel that I will be appointing are UN Women Malawi’s Country Director, Clara Anyangwe, and Professor Emmanuel Makasa of the University of Zambia.”
  • “When I reflect on what has been achieved this month, it is clear that the need for Internationalism has never been more important. The world has united at COP26, now we must unite on a truly global response to COVID-19.”

Donald Cameron MSP

Responding for the Scottish Conservatives, Donald Cameron MSP, said:

“There has always been strong cross party support for the international development efforts of successive Scottish Governments and these benches will certainly participate in any work she undertakes with opposition Members when development it.”

“Can I also welcome the [UK Government] Chancellor’s commitment to re-instate the 0.7% ODA figure … the Scottish Conservatives have been calling for that to happen for some time and we are pleased it has been acknowledged and acted upon.”


Alexander Stewart

And Alexander Stewart said: “Funding for initiatives is always welcomed and it is important there is a clear due process for determining how these grants are awarded. Can the Minister confirm that any future international development moneys will get to those who need it most and will be subject to such due process, to ensure transparency, accountability and value for taxpayers?” To which the Minister said “Yes, I am happy to confirm that”.


Sarah Boyack MSP

Responding for Scottish Labour, Sarah Boyack MSP said:

“I welcome the offer of cross party work both in this Chamber and through our cross party groups. [Minister Gilruth] is right to acknowledge the importance of practical support for our international development support partners countries to come through and rebuild from the pandemic and to address the challenges of our climate emergency”


Foysol Choudhury MSP

And Foysol Choudhury MSP said:

“Many nations in Africa are still way behind in vaccination with some having only vaccinated 5% of their population. Access remains a barrier proving great difficulty to speed up vaccinations…How much of Scotland’s vaccine supply has already been delivered to Malawi and what are the future plans to bolster supply.”


Michelle Thompson MSP

Responding for the SNP, Michelle Thompson MSP said:

“I am pleased to see the continued commitment by the Scottish Government to its international obligations of significant importance is the commitment to supporting women.”


John Mason MSP

John Mason MSP asked: “Will third sector organisations be involved in this work going forwards?”


Kaukab Stewart MSP

And Kaukab Stewart MSP said:

“Having met with representatives from Malawi in Kelvin’s Woodland Community Garden during cop26 it was concerning to learn of the challenges that they face at the hands of climate change and in turn which have also impacted their ability to respond to Covid.”


Liam McArthur MSP

Responding for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Liam McArthur MSP said:

“I appreciate that Covid has required speedy action; however, going forwards, would the Minister commit to ensuring those helping deliver projects in partner countries have early sight of the future funding and objectives, access to proper application process and independent assessment and scoring of bids so we have the transparency that is the best means of ensuring that funds that are allocated are put to the best possible use.”

To which the Minister said: “In terms of transparency the way we have administered this is quite clear but I am happy to provide more information with him. He raised an issue around the application process for funding, if there is a specific issue for an organisation he might be aware of please raise that with me. I am happy to speak to officials about it and get him more information. He is absolutely correct that that transparency is vital in international development.”