Scottish Government Principles

Christina McKelvie, Minister for Culture, Europe & International Development.
Christina McKelvie, Minister for Culture, Europe & International Development.

In March 2021 the Scottish Government (SG) concluded its international development policy review and announced eight principles which would underpin its future work in this area.

The Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) supports and works within these principles, which align closely to the 11 Scotland-Malawi PARTNERSHIP Principles which both nations have been championing since 2012 and which were co-designed by around 200 Scottish and 200 Malawian organisations.

In keeping with our commitment to transparency and accountability, this page gives a handful of recent examples of how the SMP is working within these eight SG principles. The SMP is independent to, but core funded by, the SG.

Partner-country led development


“We recognise that countries prioritise their own needs and lead their own development, therefore we fund work that is aligned with national / local plans and other in-country development partners. In supporting partner-countries we make sure we have sufficient expertise and skills to form a partnership and add value, and also support them to move beyond aid to sustainable development, including adapting to the global climate emergency.”

Scottish Government.

This is at the core of the SMP, who we are, and what we believe. We have been supporting partner-country led development since we were founded in 2004. For example, more recently:

President of Malawi:

Every President of Malawi since we were founded has volunteered to serve on an ex officio basis, as the Hon Co-Patron of the SMP. The current President, H.E. Dr Lazarus Chakwera, has been especially active in this role, including:

‘Vision 2063’:

We have specifically created new digital events to support our members to better work within Malawi’s long-term priorities, including ‘Vision 2063’ with a special roundtable meeting with CEO of National Planning Commission. Every SMP Member Forum now has Malawian speakers, speaking live from Malawi, outlining Malawi’s priorities in that area. For example, this has included:

30-75% of attendees at SMP meetings since March 2020 have been Malawians, joining live from Malawi.


The SMP worked actively for the two years prior to COP26 to engage, listen to and amplify Malawi’s priorities for COP26, including through:

  • Producing and disseminating 26 #COP26Voices videos of young Malawians and Scots talking about their climate priorities.
  • Supporting a major two-week Cop26 Youth Hub in Lilongwe, engaging and amplifying young Malawians, including live-linking to Edinburgh so the President could hear directly from these young Malawians.
  • Raising awareness of what climate change means in Malawi by sponsoring a feature length documentary ‘The Ants and the Grasshopper’ to be shown across Scotland in the run up to COP26
  • Support for Malawians attending COP26

Covid-19 Coordination:

Hosting 15 Covid Coordination meetings, with a total attendance of over 1,587, with 674 different organisations and key individuals taking part. All meetings had Malawian speakers (including the Minister of Health and heads of the President’s Covid taskforce).

Business and Trade:

Working with the Malawi-UK Business Group, including chairing a major Agro-Business conference, with the Ministers of Trade and Agriculture, and all relevant Malawian departments, as well as global banks and investment bodies, and 200 business leaders.

Youth Festival:

Hosted a major week-long Youth Festival, amplifying young Malawian voices to more than 250,000 digitally, through youth-led webinars, podcasts, competitions. Focused around the key themes of Climate Change, and Race and Equality, the week was provoking, challenging and inspiring.


Race Equality Podcast Cover Art

“We recognise the enduring and intersectional inequalities that exist and we ensure reducing inequalities is central to how we work. We oppose racism in all its forms and aspire to be anti-racist in our work. We prioritise the rights of women and girls, their advancement and equality.”

Scottish Government.

The SMP is anti-racist and anti-prejudice, we stand in solidarity with those who fight racism, in all its forms, in both Scotland and Malawi. The SMP’s Black Lives Matter commitment has received strong praise, including in the Scottish Parliament from the Scottish Government.

Digital Youth Festival:

The week-long SMP Digital Youth Festival had a specific focus on race and equality, as well as climate change. There were discussions between young Malawians and Scots around themes of diversity and inclusion, with the young people having received training on discussing sensitive topics. There were a range of digital discussions and outputs relating to these themes, including:

Podcast on ‘Young Voices on Race and Equality
Webinar on ‘Race and Equality’
Webinar on ‘Equity and Diversity’

Samson Kambalu: Fourth Plinth Commission

The SMP actively mobilised its members and partners to vote for Samson Kambalu when his statue, entitled ‘Antelope’ was one of six works shortlisted for the Mayor of London’s Trafalgar Square fourth plinth commission. Malawi-born Professor Samson Kambalu is a highly respected artist, academic and author who trained as a fine artist and ethnomusicologist at the University of Malawi's Chancellor College. ‘Antelope’ depicts Malawian freedom fighter John Chilembwe, larger than life, alongside John Chorley. John Chilembwe is depicted wearing a hat: a potent symbol given, during colonial rule, Malawians were expected to remove their headwear when passing, or in the presence of, a European; as well as stopping and standing to one side. Prof Kambalu won the commission and ‘Antelope’ will feature in Trafalgar Square for two years from 2022: a Malawian freedom fighter literally sizing up to the countless projections of imperial power in central London.

Samson Kambalu and his Scottish wife (who were married by an SMP member 20 years ago) have been a part of the SMP community and spoke at our AGM about “their very own Scotland-Malawi partnership”!. We are now working with the Scottish Parliament and Samson to have ‘Antelope’ displayed in the Scottish Parliament in 2022.

Human Rights of People with Albinism:

The SMP has been a long-term supporter of people with albinism in Malawi. The Partnership has established major platforms, including in Parliament, for prominent speakers on this subject, including Scottish Government Human Rights Defender Fellow, Tumeliwa Mphepo. In 2019 the hosted the Scottish Premiere of ‘LAZARUS’, a feature film about the human rights abuses in Malawi against those with albinism, and hosted singer Lazarus Chigwandali to perform at its AGM and discuss with SMP members this important topic.

In 2013-15 the SMP ran a David Livingstone Scholarship Programme, funded by the Scottish Government, through which it paid the costs of Overstone Kondowe’s, Master’s degree. With this investment in his education, in November 2021, Overstone Kondowe became the first MP in Malawi with albinism. The Guardian described this as a: “giant step forward’ in a continent where people with albinism face stigma and attacks”

Decolonizing Development:

On the 13th January the SMP will host an event exploring themes around decolonizing development. This builds on the members’ discussion breakout group relating to decolonizing development in the SMP AGM. The event will explore how iniquities, injustice and inequalities can be hard-wired into the structures through which we engage. It will discuss the colonial hangovers which hold back genuine equality and prevent Malawians being free and having the agency to lead their own transformative change at scale? And it will consider what types of thinking, including unconscious bias, language, hierarchies and aspects of systems such as Health, Education and Aid can be barriers to progress and genuine national and cultural autonomy? The event will listen and learn, develop and co-design and build together even stronger, healthier, more equitable and impactful relationships.

Amplify global-south voices


“We encourage advocacy by and in support of the global south including the poorest and those living in vulnerable situations.”

Scottish Government.

As outlined throughout this page, the SMP is committed to amplifying Malawi’s voice in the bilateral relationship, across all its work.

Malawian participation in SMP events:

Since the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, almost all SMP events have been digital or hybrid. Through this period, each of the SMP’s events have had 30-75% of attendees and speakers being Malawian, joining from Malawi. This has allowed the SMP to listen to a broad range of Malawian voices, in keeping with its commitments to diversity, inclusion and transparency.

Malawi at COP26:

The SMP worked for almost two years in the run up to COP26, to ensure that Malawi’s voice was heard at this crucial conference. The Partnership used video, live-link ups, events, social media and coverage in the local, national and international media to amplify Malawi’s voice. The President of Malawi has repeatedly publicly thanked the SMP for its work in this area, commenting that because COP26 took place in Scotland, it ‘wasn’t a conference but a Homecoming’. The Acting Malawi High Commissioner said: “You really gave Malawi a voice at COP26”.

David Livingstone’s Living Legacy:

The SMP produced 32 videos, of people from across Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the UK, reflecting on what David Livingstone’s legacy is for them (both good and bad). This is a main, permanent feature in the final room of the newly opened David Livingstone Birthplace Centre. Working with the Centre, the SMP was able to support a shift away from the ‘lone traveller’ narrative, instead recognising the many Africans involved in Livingstone’s travels, and the different perspectives of his work today. In this way, the SMP was able to help amplify a range of southern voices. In November, the SMP gave a personal tour of the exhibition, showing these videos to the President of Malawi and then the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Both were moved and greatly impressed at the efforts taken by the SMP and the Centre, to listen to a range of voices.

Inclusion and diversity

SMP People 2 People Podcast GRAPHICS Instagram 2

“We question whose expertise we value, who we listen to and who holds the levers of power. We support new and innovative ways to break down barriers, to harness a diverse range of new voices and new ideas to drive change.”

Scottish Government.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity Training:

Working closely with the Association of Malawians in Scotland, the SMP is hosting a major training workshop on Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity on the 9th February. The event is exploring diversity in the bilateral relationship, discussing who may be currently excluded and how we, as a community of actors, can help build inclusive work practices. It will hear and learn from leaders in the fields of equity, diversity and inclusivity.  Including issues of gender equality, race and ethnicity, disability and neuro diversity, the aim of the event will be to help raise awareness of opportunities to benefit from greater diversity in SMP members’ infrastructures, as well as looking at issues around unconscious bias. The event will also be enriched by Human Rights perspectives from Malawi.

‘People and Privilege’ Podcast:

The popular People to People Podcast series included an episode on ‘People and Privilege’. The episode, co-produced and co-hosted by a young Malawian and a young Scot, discussed guilt, white privilege, ‘white saviours’, Black Lives Matter, racism. The episode sensitively explored these themes with interviews with Malawian comedian Daliso Chaponda, members of the Dunblane Boys Brigade, Malawian musician Davie Luhanga, and others. Following this episode there was strong social media engagement and a special extra mini-episode reflecting on this.

Collaboration and partnerships

DSC 3077

“We build partnerships with a shared ethos and vision that benefit from expertise across partner countries to foster joint learning and co-create solutions to further our commitment in our 2016 International Development Strategy to the “Beyond Aid agenda.”

Scottish Government.

The SMP is driven by partnership. It exists to broker and support collaboration and partnership, both between its members in Scotland, and between Scotland and Malawi.

The SMP itself has strong partnerships with:

Malawi Scotland Partnership:

Our sister network, the Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP), is of course our closest partner. The overarching model in the modern era of the bilateral relationship is that the SMP represents Scots working with Malawi and MaSP represents Malawians working with Scotland. In this way, we push back against the all too prevalent paradigm of those in the global north setting the agenda. The SMP is accountable to MaSP, just as MaSP is accountable to the SMP. SMP and MaSP staff work together each day to ensure this model works in practice, and that both networks work within our shared nations’ Scotland-Malawi Partnership Principles.

Association of Malawians in Scotland:

  • The SMP works closely with the Association of Malawians in Scotland, for example:
  • Having diaspora speakers after the various showings of ‘The Ants and the Grasshopper’ across Scotland, digging into the themes explored of climate change and gender equality.
  • Organising and funding a major event for members of the Diaspora to meet in person with the First Lady of Malawi, while she was in Scotland for COP26.
  • Support for the search for Timothy Chiwaula, the missing Malawian 23 year old, tragically found dead in Glasgow.
  • Invitations to have diaspora speakers at SMP events through the year.
  • Paid work for those in the Malawian diaspora community to work with the David Livingstone centre as part of their further outreach work.
  • Language and cultural training run by the diaspora.

Alliance and Scottish Fair Trade Forum:

The SMP works closely with the Alliance and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, as the two other SG core funded networks. The SMP hosts regular network forum meetings between the CEOs of the three networks, to share plans, work together and build collaborations.

Innovative, adapting and sustainable


“We design programmes that are: flexible, resourceful and capable of responding to changing circumstances; are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, with interventions that consider long-term aims, and take account of risk. Recognising that we are facing a global climate emergency, we will support increasing resilience to climate change and to transition to becoming, as appropriate, net-zero economies in a way that is fair, just and leaves no one behind.”

Scottish Government.

Since the start of the pandemic, almost all the SMP’s work has been digital, this has allowed the Partnership to innovate, adapt and support more sustainable working.

‘People to People’ Podcast:

The SMP innovated by moving what would have been in-person member engagements to digital alternatives, including the ‘People to People’ podcast. This allowed a young female Malawian and a young female Scot to work together, co-producing and co-hosting the podcast and interviewing many different and diverse people across Malawi and Scotland.

Oxygen Appeal:

In the February Covid Coordination meeting it became obvious that there was a series and urgent lack of oxygen equipment in Malawi. The SMP immediately formed an Oxygen Coordination Group, bringing together the leading experts across Malawi and Scotland. Following this route, the SMP was able to think innovatively about what support would have greatest sustainable impact. In two weeks, an urgent appeal raised over £40,000 (later bolstered by a significant donation from HRH the Princess Royal), these funds were used to support volunteer engineers in Malawi to travel around Malawi fixing Oxygen saturators already in Malawi which were no longer operational. More than $500,000 of oxygen equipment has been fixed following this route, with much of the £40,000 still remaining, such that this work will continue for many more months. This innovative approach has allowed far greater impact and has significantly built sustainability, with all the assets barcoded, recorded and now maintained.

Chichewa Challenge:

When the SMP could no longer hold in-person diaspora-led Chichewa training, the SMP innovated and moved this work online, with Zoom based courses and a ‘Chichewa Challenge’ taken up by a diverse range of different members.

Embrace technology

Covid Meeting 14 FB

“We support innovation to progress human health, wellbeing and environmental sustainability, such as improved access to digital services and using technology to reduce the need to travel, while acknowledging that technology can be a barrier to participation for some people in the global south.”

Scottish Government.

The SMP has worked to not only embrace technology in its own work (as has been outlined above) but also to support its members, especially smaller organisations, to do the same. For example:

  • On going support for the Mamie Martin Fund: supporting their appeals as they move to digital and offering assistance on social media use.
  • Hosting an online launch for Susan Dalgety’s book ‘the Spirit of Malawi’
  • Hosting the Malawi Frontline Voices event with EMMS International, to help build their confidence in using Zoom for these sort of events.

The SMP is currently developing a suite of new digital resources to assist Scotland-Malawi school partnerships, as well as new services to support digital school linking. Together, these will help schools keep their partnerships alive while they are not able to travel to Malawi but also help show schools how they can have a meaningful partnership with Malawi potentially without anyone ever having to travel between the two countries.

Accountable, transparent and safe

Website members

“The Scottish Government and our delivery partners are transparent and accountable to local communities and the general public in our partner countries and in Scotland; we ensure, that all of our work has appropriate safeguarding policies and practices in place.”

Scottish Government.

The SMP is committed to transparency. Almost all SMP events are now digital and are recorded with the videos freely available for anyone to view on the SMP website.

Every SMP event has its own dedicated webpage where the SMP can share videos, chatbox threads and other key links from that meeting.

The SMP uses pages, like this one, to share detailed information for those that wish it about what it is doing, why, and what impact this is having.

The Partnership has further improved its website, its weekly members’ news bulletin and its social media use, with records levels of readership and engagement across all three.

The SMP remains committed to being a leading example of safeguarding good working practice. It is therefore fully updating its Safeguarding Policy to ensure it complies with the Scottish Government’s new National Guidance on Chil Protection (Sept 2021). The Partnership is expanding its Safeguarding Committee, to include some of Scotland’s leading experts in this area. It is also continuing to work closely with Police Scotland and other sector leaders, with a table-top scenario planning exercise to test and strengthen the updated Safeguarding Policy, in keeping with best practice.

Partner-country led development in pictures...