German parliamentary State Secretary in the Development Ministry Gudrun Kopp was on Wednesday stunned by Malawi’s poverty levels after touring several villages in Dowa and Salima.

Kopp arrived in Malawi on Monday on a four-day official visit during which she met President Joyce Banda and civil society leaders, among others.

While in Traditional Authority Ndindi in Salima, Kopp nearly shed tears when she heard the story of Gogo Madelesi Filipo, 80, who looks after her three orphaned grandchildren. Filipo has been taking care of the grandchildren for the past 10 years after all their parents died.

She is one of the beneficiaries of a social cash transfer scheme the German Government is piloting in 20 districts in the country with the aim of pulling many Malawians out of poverty.

“I can’t explicitly say how long I have been receiving the money from [the German government] but the money is K2 000 (about $8) per month. My life and that of my grandchildren has changed since then,” said the octogenarian, who relies on subsistence farming for a living.

Filipo received a pack of necessities such as cooking oil, sugar and soap from Kopp.

Kopp said her government is moved by the poverty levels in Malawi.

“Having the first-hand experience of people in the country living in abject poverty has increased my government’s commitment towards helping Malawi alleviate poverty. It is for this reason that we have put in place 7 million euros towards a social cash transfer scheme in Malawi in which 28 000 households, which roughly translates to 100 000 people, will benefit. After some time, we will evaluate the progress and impact so far on Malawians,” she said.

“President Banda has a huge task ahead of her in as far as transforming Malawi’s poverty levels is concerned. As such she and her government need enough financial support,” added Kopp while fighting back tears.

The German official, who has since left the country, also visited Chiwamba Health Centre in Dowa where she pledged her government’s support towards Malawi’s health sector.

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