Aid projects for Malawi mark bicenetary of David Livingstone

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has announced new funding for aid projects in Malawi as both countries mark the bicentenary of Dr David Livingstone this year.

Dr Livingstone was born 200 years ago today in the small Scottish town of Blantyre. He trained as a medical missionary and led numerous expeditions in Malawi.

The £4.9m aid package will go towards 15 projects related to healthcare and economic development. Several projects focus especially on women and children, and improving maternal and neonatal care in rural areas.

The aid will be distributed over the next three years by the Scottish Government's International Development Fund.

The projects are being run by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, Oxfam Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

Mr Salmond said: "As the enduring and strong relationship between the peoples of Scotland and Malawi continues I am delighted to announce this funding which has a focus on healthcare and economic development in Malawi.

"The Scottish Government is committed to working with the people of Malawi and continuing the partnership of skills and expertise that currently benefits Scots and Malawians every year."

SCIAF director Patricia Chalé commended the Scottish Government for its commitment to partnership with the people of Malawi.

She said the new funding would help thousands of individuals leave a life "blighted by hunger" and move towards a brighter and more prosperous future.

"Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world with 40 per cent of the population surviving on less than 66 pence a day," she said.

"This money will help 3,000 of the poorest Malawian families to increase their income and the amount of food they can grow.

"Many will receive goats, cattle and livestock training. Eight villages will receive help to build new irrigation systems. Others will receive small loans and training in how to start up small businesses."

Oxfam Scotland will use the funding on projects to assist subsistence farmers in rural parts of Malawi.

Head of Oxfam Scotland, Judith Robertson, said: "This is very welcome funding which will make a real difference to thousands of the most vulnerable households in rural Malawi, including households headed by children or affected by HIV and AIDS. The finance will help them improve their economic position through the provision of farming skills and technology.

"It's particularly apt that the announcement has been made this week as we celebrate the bi-centenary of David Livingstone – and illustrates how his legacy continues to make a real difference to the most vulnerable Malawians."