Losing Faith

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022447/00001

Material Information

Title: Losing Faith Fertilizer and Democracy in Malawi
Physical Description: 1 online resource (222 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Uttaro, Robert
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008


Subjects / Keywords: Political Science -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Political Science thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been simultaneously undergoing economic and political liberalization. Under the auspices of the international financial institutions, (i.e., World Bank and IMF), the success of structural adjustment policies and democratic consolidation is assumed to be inherently bound up in the complementarity of the two processes. However, skeptics argue that the simultaneous processes of democratization and economic liberalization are incompatible particularly in sub-Saharan African countries due to the conditions they face. For those countries that have followed the IFIs dictates, the record is dismal on both counts. It is argued in this dissertation that World Bank, IMF and donor community, unbending in their belief in neoliberal economics, pushed policies on Malawi that were inappropriate for the unique circumstances Malawi faced. Not only did these policies negatively affect the lives of the vast majority of Malawians but they also impeded democratic consolidation. A key mistake was in pushing their agenda with widely different priorities from what the people want, they placed Malawi?s new democracy under great stress. Their attempt to improve economic development by removing specific policy instruments from political discussion and contest resulted in severely limiting government responsiveness. One policy in particular, the removal of the fertilizer subsidy, was a key decision by the Bank and the IMF. It is used to see how it affected people's belief in the promise of democracy to improve their lives. A material perspective on democracy is adopted to argue that removing significant policies from democratic political contestation, (e.g. fertilizer subsidies) ensure that the democratization and economic liberalization processes actually work at cross-purposes resulting in neither democratic consolidation nor economic growth. Ultimately, a re-examination of the role of the state is necessary if the two processes are to become complementary. One of the greatest challenges facing new democracies in Africa is proving to people that their faith in democracy's promise to significantly improve their lives is not misplaced. To that end, government responsiveness is crucial. Democratic consolidation requires a state that has the ability to respond to people's demands. In doing so, democracy reforms the state and its institutions. Responsiveness to people's demands not only strengthens the bond between state and society but also increases the legitimization of the state and in the process developing state capacity to carry out economic structural adjustment. It is concluded that the World Bank and other international institutions need to abandon the 'one-size-fits-all' neoliberal approach to structural adjustment and allow individual countries input in the design of policy packages necessary to solve their unique problems. In this way, structural adjustment policies sensitive to the specific contexts of each country can foster both economic growth and democratic consolidation.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Robert Uttaro.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Hyden, Goran S.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022447:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022447/00001

Material Information

Title: Losing Faith Fertilizer and Democracy in Malawi
Physical Description: 1 online resource (222 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Uttaro, Robert
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008


Subjects / Keywords: Political Science -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Political Science thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been simultaneously undergoing economic and political liberalization. Under the auspices of the international financial institutions, (i.e., World Bank and IMF), the success of structural adjustment policies and democratic consolidation is assumed to be inherently bound up in the complementarity of the two processes. However, skeptics argue that the simultaneous processes of democratization and economic liberalization are incompatible particularly in sub-Saharan African countries due to the conditions they face. For those countries that have followed the IFIs dictates, the record is dismal on both counts. It is argued in this dissertation that World Bank, IMF and donor community, unbending in their belief in neoliberal economics, pushed policies on Malawi that were inappropriate for the unique circumstances Malawi faced. Not only did these policies negatively affect the lives of the vast majority of Malawians but they also impeded democratic consolidation. A key mistake was in pushing their agenda with widely different priorities from what the people want, they placed Malawi?s new democracy under great stress. Their attempt to improve economic development by removing specific policy instruments from political discussion and contest resulted in severely limiting government responsiveness. One policy in particular, the removal of the fertilizer subsidy, was a key decision by the Bank and the IMF. It is used to see how it affected people's belief in the promise of democracy to improve their lives. A material perspective on democracy is adopted to argue that removing significant policies from democratic political contestation, (e.g. fertilizer subsidies) ensure that the democratization and economic liberalization processes actually work at cross-purposes resulting in neither democratic consolidation nor economic growth. Ultimately, a re-examination of the role of the state is necessary if the two processes are to become complementary. One of the greatest challenges facing new democracies in Africa is proving to people that their faith in democracy's promise to significantly improve their lives is not misplaced. To that end, government responsiveness is crucial. Democratic consolidation requires a state that has the ability to respond to people's demands. In doing so, democracy reforms the state and its institutions. Responsiveness to people's demands not only strengthens the bond between state and society but also increases the legitimization of the state and in the process developing state capacity to carry out economic structural adjustment. It is concluded that the World Bank and other international institutions need to abandon the 'one-size-fits-all' neoliberal approach to structural adjustment and allow individual countries input in the design of policy packages necessary to solve their unique problems. In this way, structural adjustment policies sensitive to the specific contexts of each country can foster both economic growth and democratic consolidation.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Robert Uttaro.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Hyden, Goran S.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022447:00001

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2 2008 Robert P. Uttaro


3 To my late parents, Mario and Gertrude Utta ro, and sister Maureen, for all their support, unwavering faith, and infinite love that sust ained me throughout and nourishes me still.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS By default, all dissertations are dishonest in on e respect: they carry only the name of the individual who wrote it. The tr uth is that no dissertation is a sole effort or as lonely an undertaking as is often portrayed. Behind the na me of the author are scores of individuals without whom no dissertation woul d ever reach completion. No one knows this better than I do. Although this dissertation is my work, I am only at the top of a pyramid of people upon whose broad and strong shoulders I stand today. Initially, I thank Dr. Christy Gladwin for th e funding without which I could never have spent the amount of time in Malawi that I did. A chance encounter on the elevator in Grinter Hall in 1995 led to many subsequent meetings a nd discussions, which culminated in Christy providing me with the funding from the Gender and Soil Fertility in Africa Soils Management CRSP (Collaborative Research S upport Program). To fund a doc toral candidate in political science with money from a grant that was geared more toward s technical research was a big risk in and of itself. However, to give it to a doctoral student whose understanding of the composition of soil came down to dirt was a giant leap of faith. Special thanks go to Christy for taking that leap. No words can sufficiently express the dept h of gratitude I owe to my supervisory committee chair, Distinguished Professor Gora n Hyden. His intellect ual guidance, support, wisdom, and mentoring were inva luable for this dissertation but even more so for my own intellectual development. Through thick and th in, Goran stood by me, braced and backed me and when events in my life gave rise to selfdoubts, Goran gently coaxed me to pay no attention to them. Every successful life is indebted to those people encountered along the way whose own lives act as beacons lighting the path in the search for meaning and purpose. It is in our nature to emulate those who we hold in highest regards and greatly respect, and, even when fully aware of


5 our own shortcomings, they inspire us to try. Go ran is one of those beacons and for that, I am eternally grateful. I am greatly indebted to the other member s of my committee. I want to thank both Professors Leann Brown and David Hedge for their patience with me. Their unwavering support and willingness to indulge in my much too often disconnectedness deserves special acknowledgement. When I needed their advice, they never hesitate d to offer their help, insights, and critiques. I am also very grateful to them as teachers and as mentors. In both callings, they are supreme and their dedication to that calling profoundly influen ced me. The success I have attained as a teacher I trace back to David and Leann. Although a late addition to my committee, ne vertheless Dr. Staffan Lindbergs advice, help and contribution was crucial. If one person was the catalyst capabl e of bringing everything together, it is Staffan. His gentle but persiste nt persuasion, his deadline s, and all his emails, phone calls, and personal encounters powered this dissertation to completion. Stafffans ability in explaining statistical analysis and helpi ng me understand how quantitative analysis can be used benefited me immensely. Bo th Staffan and Christy took me through the daunting forest of data in such a way that in just a few hours their lucid explanations lifted me over the last great hurdles I faced. Staffans thor ough involvement went beyond the call of duty, even to the point of helping format tables in the dissertation. I cannot express the special gratitude I have for Staffan because, when I boil it all down, what Staffan did was to resurrect within me two essential pillars of my spirit: a) believing in possibilities inspires one to work hard and, b) hard work brings great rewards. Special thanks and appreciation go to Debbi e Whalen and Sue Lawless-Yanchisin for providing so much help and support. Their involvement goes much farther than keeping track of


6 the paper work and such. I am in deep awe of thei r skills in solving problems that to me loomed so large. Throughout my time at the University of Florida, I never met two people who could turn mountains into molehills as skillfully and ex pertly as Debbie and Sue. But I am also deeply appreciative to them for the moral and emoti onal support I needed espe cially after losing my sister and my mother within three months of each other. Their special way of caring and understanding was vital in keeping me going when I felt unfathomable fatigue. I am very grateful to the people of Malawi, particularly the indivi duals I interviewed. I cannot thank them enough for their patience an d fortitude as they endured my questions, comments, and intrusion into their lives. Genera lizing about a people can be hazardous but I feel it safe to say that it would be hard to find people more friendl y and generous than I found in Malawi. The farmers I interviewed taught me ma ny things, not just abou t Malawi, farming, and yes, suffering but also about myself. When I returned from Malawi, I was a very different person and a better one at that. I am indebted to the people I interviewed who shared their lives and knowledge with me. They ga ve my life meaning through my work. There is no adequate way to thank so many for so great a contribution. I especially want to thank my interpreters and assistants, Beatrice, Aaron, David, Chicco, and of course, Junior, who was killed in traffic accident in 2001 at the age of 22. Their knowledge and especially their advice was a blessi ng. Without them I would have been that fish out of the water. I cannot thank them enough for the water. As I look further down that pyramid of people, ultimately I come to the base, where the greatest strength of a pyramid lies, yet is hardly ever noticed. That is because pyramids, like cathedrals, draw the gaze upwards but neither cathedral nor pyramid could accomplish that without a sturdy and formidable foundation. My strength, fortitude, and endurance come from


7 my parents. I am forever indebted to them for their love, trust, a nd faith in me. Their determination that their children have all the opportunitie s they were shut out from placed me on the path I followed and it was their values be honest, be good, care for others, see the value in playing by the rules and always try to do the right thing that guided me along the way. My parents profound belief in the power of education inspired me. Their unselfishness and sacrifice to see that I would have that oppo rtunity is a debt I can never pay back but happy to owe. They are and always will be my foundation. Finally, my dog and great friend, Simba, dese rves special mention. Most everyone who attempts to write something as arduous as a dissertation knows all too well those prolonged moments when nothing seems to flow. Call it writer s block or just fatigue, it is a time when the stress and frustration combine into a formidable force that can drive one to temporary madness or drink or both. Fortunately, Simba, a terrific teacher in his own right wi th a PhD in the art of perception, knew exactly when I needed a break. On those countless occasions when I stared into that void, there would be Simba, sitt ing next to me, looking up, panting and by the expression on his face, suggesting that a nice walk might be just what the doctor ordered. His prescription was always correct a nd without fail, the greatest break throughs came as we strolled together down a quiet street, lo st in our own specific thoughts unde r the spell of that mystical bond with mans best friend.


8 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ........10 LIST OF FIGURES.......................................................................................................................12 ABSTRACT...................................................................................................................................13 CHAP TER 1 THE (UN) MYTH OF SISYPHUS........................................................................................ 15 Fertilizer Subsidy Removal: Exposin g Asymm etrical Power Relations................................23 Contested Perspectives on Developments Purpose........................................................ 26 Research Setting............................................................................................................29 Methodology....................................................................................................................31 Outline of the Study........................................................................................................... .....32 2 AFTER THE WAVE.............................................................................................................. 36 A Different View of State Significance.............................................................................40 Democratic Consolidation............................................................................................43 Democratic Consolidation and Economic Liberalization.........................................48 Hypothesis................................................................................................................50 Structural Adjustment Justified in the Context of African Politics ........................................53 Politics in Africa............................................................................................................. .54 Malawi as a Case Study......................................................................................................... .63 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................72 3 SETTING THE CONTEXT: MALAWIS STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT EXPERIENCE ........................................................................................................................74 Structural Adjustment: An Overview.................................................................................76 Oil Shocks and the Foundation for the World Economic Order............................................ 80 Neoliberalism and the New Architecture of Development..............................................82 Effects of Structural Adjustment.................................................................................87 Structural Adjustment in Malawi........................................................................................88 Fertilizer Subsidy Removal.............................................................................................90 Criticism of SAPs and Fertilizer Subsidy Removal...................................................93 Conclusion.............................................................................................................................95 4 STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT AND DIMI NISHING CHOICES AT THE VILL AGE LEVEL....................................................................................................................................98


9 Household Food Security...................................................................................................108 Decision Tree Modeling....................................................................................................113 Research at the Village Level............................................................................................114 Constraints to Using Chemical Fertilizer..................................................................116 The Decision to Use Small Bags of Fertilizer............................................................... 125 The Decision to Plant Hybrid Maize.........................................................................130 Conclusion............................................................................................................................138 5 A MATERIAL VIEW OF DEMOCRACY: DATA............................................................ 143 The View from the Ground................................................................................................... 147 Problem Identification.................................................................................................154 Importance of Perceptions of the Promise of Democracy............................................. 162 Social and Economic Variables.................................................................................163 Political Implications: Voting and Participation.............................................................169 6 CONCLUSIONS.................................................................................................................. 175 Resurgence of the Personality Politics................................................................................. 179 Reflections on the Role of the State.....................................................................................184 A Different Approach: Reinsta ting the Fertilizer Subsidy 2006 ..........................................196 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................204 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................222


10 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Measure of democratic consolida tion of sub-Saharan African states ................................ 38 2-2 Ranking of Malawis human development index 2005..................................................... 70 2-3 Ranking of Malawi with selected indicators of hum an poverty (2004).............................72 4-1 Farmers ranking of reasons for planting pigeon pea........................................................ 122 4-2 Farmers ranking of reasons for planting mucuna............................................................ 123 4-3 Farmers not using fertilizer like ly to have cash for sm all bags....................................... 126 4-4 Farmers choice between manure and chemi cal fertilizer for best hybrid yields .............. 131 4-5 Number and percent of farmers planted hybrid maize..................................................... 136 4-6 Change in percentage of farmers who planted fertili zed hybrid m aize........................... 137 4-7 Change in amount of fertilizer appl ied and hectares of hybrid, 1995/96-1996/97 .......... 138 5-1 Identification of problems ranke d by frequency and percentage ..................................... 156 5-2 Households unable to produce enoug h food by fr equency and percentage..................... 157 5-3 Farm production and food securi ty by frequency and percentage ................................... 157 5-4 Fertilizer use on crops compared to previous year by num ber and percentage...............158 5-5 Amount of fertilizer use and food security ...................................................................... 159 5-6 Solutions for government to addr ess ranked by frequency and percentage ..................... 161 5-7 Respondents believing the promise of democracy has been kept.................................... 164 5-8 Is life better or worse af ter MCP and one party rule? ...................................................... 164 5-9 Relationship between perceptions of dem ocracy and agricultural production................ 166 5-10 Relationship between perceptions of dem ocracy and government responsiveness......... 167 5-11 Perceptions of political lead ers awareness and concern................................................. 168 5-12 Voting turnout 1993 2004.............................................................................................169


11 5-13 Logistic regression models predictin g perception of whether the prom ise of democracy has been kept or not....................................................................................... 172 5-14 Predicted probability on dependent variable.................................................................... 174


12 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1 Human Development Index............................................................................................... 39 4-1 Decision tree for usi ng chem ical fertilizer.......................................................................119 4-2 Decision to use small bags of fertilizer............................................................................ 128 4-3 Decision to plant hybrid maize........................................................................................ 133


13 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy LOSING FAITH: FERTILIZER AND DEMOCRACY IN MALAWI By Robert P. Uttaro August 2008 Chair: Goran Hyden Major: Political Science Since the end of the Cold War, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been simultaneously undergoing economic and political liberalization. Under the auspices of the international financial institutions of the World Bank and the IMF, the success of structural adjustment policies and democratic cons olidation is assumed to be inherently bound up in the complementarity of the two processes. Howe ver, skeptics argue that the simulataneous processes of democratization a nd economic liberalization are particularly incompatible in subSaharan African countries due to the severity of the conditions they face. Indeed, for those countries that have followed the IFIs dictat es, the record is dismal on both counts. It is argued in this dissertation that th e World Bank, the IMF and the donor community, unbending in their belief in neoliberal econom ics, pushed policies on Malawi that were inappropriate for the unique circumstances Mala wi faced. Consequently, not only did these policies negatively affect the lives of the vast majority of Malwians but they also impeded democratic consolidation. A key mi stake was that the priorities of the IFIs as expressed in their structural djustment policies were widely different from what the people expected from their new democratic government. Failing to comprehend th e difference, the IFIs placed Malawis new


14 democracy under great stressby removing specific policy instruments from political discussion and contest. The outcome was to severely lim it government reponsiveness to peoples demands. One policy in particular, the removal of the fertilizer subsidy, was a key decision by the Bank and the IMF. This action is used to see how it affected peoples belief in the promise that democracy would improve their livess. A material perspective on democracy is adopted to argue that removing significant policies such as the fertilizer subsidy from democratic political contestation illustrates how democratic consolidation and economic liberalization processes actually work at cross-purposes. As a result neither democratic consolidation nor economic growth occurs. One of the greatest challenges facing new demo cracies in Africa is proving to people that their faith in democracys promise to significantly improve their lives is not misplaced. To that end, government responsiveness is crucial. Democrat ic consolidation requires a state that has the ability to respond to peoples demands. In doing so, democracy reforms the state and its institutions. Responsiveness to peoples de mands not only strengthens the bond between state and society but also increases the legitimization of the state and in the process developing state capacity to carry out economic structural adjustment Ultimately, a re-examination of the role of the state is necessary if the two proc eses are to become complementary. It is concluded that the World Bank and other international institutions need to abandon the one-size-fits-all neoliberal approach to stru ctural adjustment and a llow individual countries input in the design of policy pack ages necessary to solve their unique problems. In this way, structural adjustment policies sensitive to the specific contexts of each country can foster economic growth without hindering democratic consolidation.


15 CHAPTER 1 THE (UN) MYTH OF SISYPHUS I cam e to Malawi for the first time in 1995 with the purpose of nosing around a bit, meeting people, making appointments and with ot her sundry activities, nail down a research agenda for a dissertation. I had three weeks and no idea what so ever how I would manage to do it. It was June, the start of th e dry season, but I did not notice. I liked the idea th at one bright sunny day would follow another and even more gratef ul of that fact as I walked the streets of Lilongwe, the capital city. At fi rst, it was intimidating because I had never been to a developing country before. However, within a few days, I was comfortable enough to explore other areas of the city. I would set up appointments, meet with a number of people in the government, ask questions, and take notes. In the afternoon, I wo uld return to the guest house to look over my notes hoping that somehow, the direction of my research would be revealed. Somewhere in those notes, the spores of the grea test dissertation ever written we re waiting for that moment to explode. On days where I had no appointments, I woul d walk around the city, curious and amazed at the number of street venders along the sidewalk selling all types of items I also noticed that all were selling much the same items. It did not matter whether one was shopping for bowls, bags, or batteries, quality was the same. In th e main market, I noticed virtually the same only many more stalls and many selling second hand clothing. All these things and more I noticed but it meant nothing to me. I was in tourist mode and Malawi was exotic and different. I was in Africa. I headed to Zomba where I spent a few days before continuing on to Blantyre where I wanted to interview Emmie Chanyi ka, a civil and gender rights advocate. On the first morning in Blantyre, I woke up early, had breakfast and h eaded down the hill to the Red Cross in the city


16 center. It was about 8:30 and the path along the main road was busy with pedestrians. Almost all would look at me especially the children in tow. I figured their interest in me was because I was white. Only later did I rea lize that was only part of it. I would smile, nod and say hello to everyone I passed. On that particular morni ng, a small boy, maybe around twelve years old, was coming up the hill balancing a very large bag of charcoal on his shoulde r. He wore a brown shirt, black shorts and he was barefoot. The bag was clearly very heavy but I was amazed at how well he had it balanced, holding the outside with his left hand, and locking it in place with his head. I remember thinking what a strong, little boy he was. As we approached, I smiled and said hello in Chichewa. He did not smile back nor say anything. He just looked up at me with a stare that I interpreted to be a mixture of shyne ss and curiosity. I assumed he was heading to the squatter settlement farther up the hill where he would sell the charcoal. I continued on my way excited about the possibility of meeting Mrs. Chanyika. The next morning, following the same routine as the previous day, I headed down the hill to Blantyre. Just as the day before, I passed many Malawians, smiled, nodded, and said hello. I would be in Blantyre for two more days before heading back to Lilongwe and flying home. As I walked down the hill, I was occupied with t houghts about my research, putting together a research prospectus and returning home where I suspected everyone woul d be curious to hear about my experience. I sensed an expert was being formed and I was pleased. Then I saw him. The same small boy was comi ng up the hill just as he had the previous morning. He carried another bag of charcoal in the same way, heading to the same market. He wore the same clothes only this time I saw them in every detail. The brown shirt that seemed sufficient the day before now looked as the rag it was. It had no buttons exposing his thin chest to the morning cold. There were several holes and tears as well as a rip at the seam where the


17 sleeve met at the shoulder. His black shorts were equally tattered displa ying numerous holes and a tear up the seam on the side. One pocket was only partially attached and dangled uselessly. Just as the day before he walked up the hill bare foot. As we passed I did not say hello, I tried to smile but could only nod my head. His eyes looked at me in the same as the day before yet, this time when our eyes met, something inside of me shattered. Everything was the same as the day before except in me, nothing was the same. We passed but this time, I only took a few steps and stopped. I turned and watched as he walked up that hill carrying that heavy bag on his small frame and at that moment, everything changed. The day before I noticed this boy but this morning I understood him. This boys life had suddenly opened before me. Invisible to me the previous day, now the entirety of his life, past, present and futu re, was plainly exposed. Questions that have no answer, the ones that torment, rose inside me. They still do. Why is he not in school? Why is he not playing soccer with his friends? There are many things he should be doing other than carrying a bag of charcoal up a hi ll. Why is he not doing what twelve-year-old boys do? I stood there watching as this young boy, bent at the wais t, his thin legs pushing forward, walked on up the hill defying all that was stack ed on top of him and before hi m. I wondered if the same questions rose within him and swir led about in his head as they we re in mine. Or did he one day find in that heavy load the irreducible answer th at arises when the powerless confront the Fates: this is how it is and you need to eat. I had been in the country for almost three w eeks yet I first encounter ed the real Malawi while descending the hill on that cool July morning in 1995. In Greek mythology, the gods condemned a man to push a rock up a hill for eternity for defying the gods and thinking he was their equal. As I watched this small boy slowly going up


18 the hill, that story I learned so many years ago in high school invaded my thoughts. It was no longer a myth. For me, that small boy was the condemned Sisyphus and a metaphor for all the interminably tormented people like him. The only difference between the myth and this boy is that at least Sisyphus was guilty of somethi ng. What gods, I thought, condemned this boy to carry such a burden up a hill? Most dissertations do not start with such l ong stories. Usually by now readers already know the main question that guides the research. Nevertheless, this story is relevant It is not just an incident but also a c ondition and raising important questi ons and issues. If a young boy is carrying charcoal up a hill everyday instead of be ing in school, then what does this say about development? If only his was an isolated ca se. It is not. Throughout Malawi, there are hundreds of thousands of children working, strugg ling along with their family simply trying to survive. If this is the result after decades of development then what does no development look like? How is it that so many people, particularly what Paul Collier calls the bottom billion in the twenty first century live in conditions reminiscent of the fi fteenth century? What could the people of Malawi have done that left them in such a ppalling conditions? Where does responsibility lie? Broad questions like these midwifed this disse rtation. Malawi is a good place to try to find answers. Malawi is ranked in the bottom five by th e United Nations Human Development Index and thus is one of the poorest countries in the world (UNDP/HDI, 2005). There are many statistics to confirm this fact but numbers only go so far. Statis tics force us to think abstractly and that may be why answers to the above questi ons remain theoretical at best while solutions prove elusive. Statistics pr ovides indications of poverty, illite racy, hunger, etc. but we cannot understand any of these with just statistics.


19 This dissertation attempts to answer the broad questions above by examining how people in rural Malawi feel about their government. More specifically, this study is about their faith in democracy and its power and promise to improve lives. After all, democracy is preferable because within it is the means to do just that. Democracy is reformist on many dimensions. It changes government institutions, procedures, and rules. It opens government up, providing transparency and it makes leaders accountable, a corrective to irres ponsibility. Moreover, democracy requires not just rules but those rule s structure how elites and leaders are to act. Democracy reforms society by establishing a protective environment for the expression of freedom and protecting civil righ ts as well as property rights. The rule of law maintains that there is freedom of the press so ideas circulate as well as criticis ms. Laws protect the freedom to associate and form interest groups to press demands into the political system but also to interact, exchange ideas and discuss public issues publicly. In such an environment, there is prosperity because transaction costs are minimized. Pros perity ensues, growth commences and society benefits. Democracy reforms economic conditions. It is a system that provides the means by which citizen preferences are reflected in policie s. Economic and social inequalities are lessened because elected leaders use the power of the st ate to address such concerns. In this way, democracy helps build a middle class reducing the tensions and potential conflicts that would arise from wide disparities in income and wealth. From a structuralist perspective, the proof in the pudding for democracy is in the improvement in the quality of peoples lives. Democracy has to operate at the micro-level as well as at the macro or else it lo ses meaning and possibly support.


20 In this sense then and very importantly, it is democracys task to create a state that connects with society. By responding to the prefer ences of citizens, people see the system as one to uphold, protect, and foster. Democracy is legitimized when most groups receive some material gain or at least believe they will. There are many ways to define and describe democracy. For me, the one that captures the esse nce of all that I belie ve about democracy is reciprocity. None of this is happening in Malawi and th at is why the story of Sisyphus is no longer a myth to me. If there is a common theme weaving through this study, it is diminishment. From the time of this study, Malawi experienced diminishment on all three dime nsions: crop yields are diminishing, lives are diminishing, and politics is di minishing. As a political scientist interested in politics and policy, I believe a de eper investigation is necessary. How is it that life for the majority of Malawians has simply gotten worse? What explains this and what does it mean for Malawis democr acy? I hope this study sheds some light on these questions. To begin, it is important to understand that th ere are two processes o ccurring relatively at the same time. The first is economic structural adjustment. Since the early 1980s, Malawi has been undergoing economic adjustment to correct st ructural imbalances that threatened economic collapse. It is widely accepted belief that unde rgoing macroeconomic structural adjustment is difficult and painful at first but is necessary if positive economic growth is to be attained. Yet, Malawi has been structurally adjusting for over twenty-five years and the pain continues with no end in sight. It is a long time and so worth asking why is it that so many people continue to bear the pain and reap no benefit?


21 The second process concerns Malawis demo cracy. In 1994, Malawi held the first multiparty elections in thirty years. Democracy arrived with much hope, none more so than the promise it held out to people that finally they could shape the policies th at would improve their lives. After more than ten years, this prom ise has not been redeemed. Why has democracy failed to deliver on that promise? The answers to why both economic adjustment and democratic consolidation failed lies somewhere in the fact that neither has been completed. Structural adjustment and democratic consolidation, the ends of each process are stalled. There is something to this fact that opens the door for further inquiry. This research proceeds under the assumption that the two are related. In regards to democracy, I argue that consolidation has been stal led due in part to the IMF, World Bank and international dono r community and the macroeconomic structural adjustment policies they required Malawi to adopt. In a larger sense, Malawis path to democratic consolidation is embedded in the greater global capitalist system and the transnationalization of international relations (Grugel, 1999: 19). Although adoption of structural adjustment policies (SAPs) is expected to create economic dislocat ions for people, there is little understanding on how the same SAPs can effect democratic consol idation. Democratic co nsolidation takes place in this context. One possible reason why less attention is given to the contextual factor is that structural adjustment and democratic consolidation are of ten treated separately although not by all. Chazan, Lewis, Mortimer, Rothchild and Stedman (1999) as well as Healy and Robinson (1992) are examples of studies explor ing the link between democratizat ion and global economic policies but the attention they devote to it less than sufficient for a deeper understanding. Abrahamsen (2000) provides a much more thorough and pr ovocative study regard ing the convergence of


22 these processes. Her argument coincides with the one in this study, that is the hegemony of World Bank structural adjustment has pr ofound negative influen ces over democratic consolidation. Others perceive the link as complementary in that African regimes, being dependent on the aid of foreign governments are required to adopt policies of democratization (Pinkney, 1994; Grugel, 1999). In other words, po litical democratization flows out of the aid dependency of African governments (Grugel, 1999). Still others focused internally, pessimistically questioning whether the governments in Africa can achieve either (Jeffries, 1993; Huntington 1991; Callaghy 1994; Bienen & Herbst, 1996). The role of non-state actors is not given the necessary scruti ny it deserves. It is likely that aid dependency affects consolidation of demo cracy but the evidence is less than clear and allows only for speculation. Linking further aid to conditionalities such as political liberalization is not a bad thing in and of its elf but it provides us with at least a better awareness of the asymmetrical power relationships that aid dependent countries are in with non-state actors. If the international financial institutions (IFIs) 1 and donors have the power to persuade governments to institute both political and economic reforms, then we need to ask in whose interest are they being implemented? Who benefits? Rural Malawians certainly are not. My own skepticism about the complementarity of structural adjustment and consolidation processes began at the time the government of Malawi ended subs idies on fertilizer in 1995. I knew Malawi was a poor country and the people were highly dependent on agriculture. Moreover, most of the people were peasant farmers primarily engaged in subsistence agriculture. Additionally, the countrys soils were nutrient deficient and food insecurity was a major concern. Therefore, fertilizer is essentia l for food security and it seemed at the time that removal of 1 From hereon, I will use the acronym IFIs when referring to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


23 fertilizer subsidies was the wrong policy for a ll those reasons and more If the policy was unpopular, there was ample reason. Fertilizer Subsidy Removal: Exposing Asymmetrical Power Relations However, there is m ore to this story. The policy was just one within the larger structural adjustment program advocated and pushed by the World Bank and the IMF. If removal of the fertilizer subsidy seemed to be pushed vigorously by the World Bank and donor community, it was done so as part of this la rger, encompassing program. One pa rticularly strong advocate for it was USAID. Since the United States provided support for Mala wis balance of payments, Malawis government was notified that any wavering on the removal could result in US support withdrawal. What unfolds in th e story is therefore more than just following policy prescriptions but the asymmetrical power relations evident in the way the donors and IFIs work together in seeing that Malawi adheres to the program. The power of international donors and the IFIs was starkly apparent at a conference I attended in February 1997 in Lilongwe. The conference was called because of the growing concern about low yields and subsequent starvation facing Malawi. Donors, World Bank officials, Government representatives and NGOs all gathered to discuss policy options. What I witnessed troubled me as much as the impending st arvation. A group of consultants, researchers, and NGO officials admitted that th e only way to avert the disaster was to reintroduce subsidized fertilizer for the short term. As reasonable as that sounded, USAID responded swiftly saying it was a policy option that was dead on arrival and government officials attending the conference were told so in no uncertain terms. There was no vote, no consultation, no consideration. Mostly, there was no one speaking on behalf of th e people. There may have been democracy in Malawi but it certainly wa s not in that conference.


24 In this context, it is hard to believe that democracy is doing well in Malawi. One way of taking its temperature is to see how people feel about it particularly in regards to holding up its material end of the bargain. More precisely, how well is democracy re sponding to the economic and social needs of citizens. Although, this stud y focuses on the materialist aspect of democracy, I do not assume that the other valu es intrinsic with democracy rule of law, freedo m, civil rights are not important. Indeed, I stress that a robust and healthy democracy functions well on both the intrinsic and the ma terialist dimension. Nevertheless, this study focuses on the materialist dimension because it has the most significance in peoples everyday lives. I maintain that in desperately poor countries, the materialist dimension is the horse that pulls the cart. The connection to consolidation should not escape us, either. How people feel about democracys ability to deliver the goods and to im prove their lives is a significant factor in the consolidation process, particularly in a poor countr y. In this respect if de mocracy fails then that suggests that democratic instit utions are weak and undeveloped creating an opening for a return to clientalism and neopatrimonialism. It is in this sense, that this study bears significance. To address the problems facing Malawi I menti oned above, fertilizer is the key. Without it, yields decline, food insecuri ty increases and hunger takes hold of household decisions. With diminishing yields, scarce cash goes towards food purchases and when that runs out, people start selling the few possessions they have. In the worst cases, women turn to prostitution, children are sold or abandoned, and crime goes up as people resort to stealing a nd hope for a better life unravels. The stories are heartbreaking. There is th e young woman, a prostitute who said she was twenty but she looked younger. She left home, she told me, to earn money so her mother and siblings could buy food. In a village not far from Lilongwe, I met a village headmans wife. She


25 was terribly concerned because they had no mo ney to buy food and her husband was ill. She told me of the hunger in the village Njala, bambo, she said. (There is hunger, sir.). As we spoke, I heard some rustling in the nkhokwe or storage bin near the house and turned to see what was making the noise. A young girl was scavenging around to find a few ears of maize. It was her grand daughter. I could see that the nkhokwe was nearly empty and here it was only August. They would have to wait until the next harves t, which was not until March and April. These are not isolated stories; they indicate more than just very difficult times. Without exaggeration, they are the stories of all those condemned to carry a burden just like the little boy in Blantyre. However, unlike Si syphus, all are innocen t of any personal tran sgression against the gods. Undoubtedly, outside influences have played a major role in shaping Malawis recent economic and political history and continue to do so. Pressures from the IFIs have essentially taken the autonomy of the state to conduct a nd design domestic policies. If democracy is suppose to ensure that the preferences of citizens are reflected in policies (Dahl, 1971) then there is a paradox here. The democracy that the IF Is propose is a democracy where the space to maneuver is considerably narrow while the donors place political conditions to aid requiring an opening up of the political space. Their understanding of democracy is limiting and from my perspective, it is very difficult to see how a restricted democracy has any chance of being consolidated. The democracy in Africa envi sioned by the internati onal donor community weakens the chances for consolidation because de mocratic reforms do not have any influence on policymaking. In such a scenario, the processes of democratic consolidation a nd economic adjustment are working not complementary but against each other or, as I put it at cross-purposes.


26 However, that is misleading as it provides an image of democracy and economic adjustment are on equal footing. That is not the case, as the brief discussion above confirms. Instead, concurring with Abrahamsens thesis (2000), th e IFIs and donor community have the upper hand as they have the greater power. Nevertheless, even as the IFIs dictate policy options, by limiting democracy in Malawi they not onl y stall consolidation but also de rail the economic growth that is suppose to follow the implementation of their stru ctural adjustment policie s. Thus, working at cross-purposes captures the dynamic very well. Stalling consolidation can have serious cons equences. By restricting the policymaking arena Malawis democratically elected governme nt cannot respond to citizen preferences, which provides the opening for a return to the neopatrimonial politics. Malawis democracy is very young and fragile. The ghosts of the past still te mpt ambitious elites despite political reforms and personal notions of power continue to infl uence state formation in Malawi. What is emerging politically is a politic s much more in common with th e past regime than what the people had in mind at the time of the first multiparty elections.2 Contested Perspectives on Developments Purpose Even as m uch of the power to shape polit ics resides with the international donor institutions, the contest is betw een different interpretations of development. On the one hand, the World Bank and others reduce development to economic development while on the other hand, democracy by nature defines development mu ch more broadly. Diane Elson captures the difference very well as she describes the IFIs view as money-centered development compared to people-centered development (Elson, 1994). The IFIs priorities are evident. 2 See Harri Englund Winning Elections, Losing Legitimacy: Multipartyism & the Neopatrimonial State in Africa in M. Cowan and L. Laakso (Eds) Multiparty Elections in Africa 2002.


27 Generally, everyone accepts the democratic fr amework that organize s Malawis political competition. The IFIs and donor community, frus trated with the ability of the one-party authoritarian regime to implement their policies, promoted democracy as the means of bringing about economic growth. It was finally clear to them that the corrupt and neopatrimonial networks failed to implement structural adjust ment reforms and it was time for transparency. The hope was that democracy would transform politics and, among other things, bring about economic recovery and social development. This has not happened in Malawi. The reason is that the IFIs perspective supported the basic structures of a democratic state but little else. With a narrow focus on moneycentered development, the democracy promoted by the IFIs was one that they hoped would best serv e their interests; the in terests of the people of Malawi were secondary, if at all. In sharp contrast, democracy came to Malawi promising to transform life. For very poor people, that is neither a compli cated nor a far-fetched idea. To them, it simply means that democracy their having a say in the way resources are allocated would change their lives. In other words, democracy was specifically promised to address and improve their socio-economic status. This, too, has not happened. Because of both of these failure s, politics in Malawi has no t changed to the extent and degree necessary for democratic consolidation. With economi c, social, and political life deteriorating in Malawi, it is important to find plausible explanations. One area of investigation is to discover what rural people think about the pr omise of democracy. This is important since, as mentioned above but bears repeating, if de mocracy is not living up to the promise of delivering the goods and improving lives, the retu rn to neopatrimonial politics greatly improves


28 making consolidation even more difficult. It is the goal of this work to show that perceptions about democracys ability to transform lives condition the type and practice of politics. Ultimately, this study is about the role of th e state and by default non-state actors in development. It brings back that old debate and jumps into the fray with both feet. Why structural adjustment and democracy work at cross-purposes centers on conflicting views of the state. The IFIs, with their neoliberal paradigm conceive of a minimalist state and requiring of recipient governments to implement policies to ac hieve that goal. For them, the free market can work miracles but only if the state has little if any interference. It is a belief that represents the best expression of what money-centered development means. On the other side is the democratic state, pr ofoundly different from that conceived in the neoliberal paradigm. Simply put, a democratic state is dynamic because it changes relationships with society. The nature of a democratic state is to be responsive because it is accountable and leaders who wish to remain in office cannot afford to neglect responsiveness. Responsive democratic states are also effective for the same r easons. Failed polices are as likely to result in a change in leadership as is neglecting popular aspirations. By adopting policies reflecting the desires of people, the democra tic state connects to society, en hances its appeal, and in the process, consolidates. The conflict between these two perspectives highlights the difficulty for Malawis democracy. With little choice a nd less power, the IFIs have confined Malawis democracy to a situation rendering it unable to re spond to the needs of the people and impossible to connect with society. Without the means and the tools to do so poor countries such as Malawi have little chance at consolidating democracy. Under thes e circumstances, consolidation is a daunting endeavor; as daunting as that hill Sisyphus is condemned to climb.


29 Research Setting Rarely does one find a description of Ma lawi that does not refer to the deep impoverishment of her people. Geographically landlocked, resource poor and rain dependant, it is an overwhelmingly rural country with high population growth and limited arable land. The population is currently about 12 million with a growth rate of about 2 percent per year. Incomes are insufficient even to provide for basic f ood security for a large share of the population. Malawi ranked 176 out of 177 on GDP per capita, with a per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) of only $605 in 2003 (UNDP, 2005). According to the World Bank, Malawi had a per capita GNI of $170 in 2000, placing sixth from the bottom of the countries based on that measure (World Bank, 2002). Close to 50% of children under five are chronically malnourished and nearly every family is affected by dis ease, notably malaria and HIV and AIDS (UNDAF, 2007). Economic structural adjustment and the shif t to political democracy, has not changed Malawis ranking and remains one of the poorest count ries in the world. A variety of indicators confirm this, whether GNP, the United Nati ons Development Progr am (UNDP), Human Development Index (HDI) or its Human Povert y Index (Chinsinga, 2007). According to the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) done in 2005, it is estimated that about 52% of the population lives below the poverty line and more than 22% live in ultra poverty3 unable to meet their minimum food requirements th e majority of these are women (Integrated Household Survey 3 An absolute poverty line divides people into two groups and is defined in simple physical needs based on a scientifically determined minimum requirement for human survival. There are various opinions about the relvance of an absolute poverty line since some argue that it is contextual. For example, Chen and Ravillion (2001) taking data form the International Comparison Project of 1993, calculated an absolute poverty line of $1.08. The World Bank defines national poverty lines as the thresholds usua lly set for households of various compositions to allow for different family sizes and they may be defined as the level of income required to have only sufficient food or food plus other necessities for survival. Malawis poverty line, particular to Malawi, is measured as $0.50 per person per day while ultra poverty is less than $0.31 per person per day (NSO,2005).


30 2004-2005, NSO, October 2005 ) In other words, nearly 7 out 12 million Malawians live in poverty and up to 19% of the population do not ha ve the income to m eet even the daily recommended food requirements (Chinsinga, 2007; NSO, 2005; GoM/World Bank, 2006; Devereux, Baulch, Phiri, & Sabates-Wheeler, 2006). Structurally, Malawis economy is heavily depe ndent on donors. Agriculture is the most significant sector responsible for approximately 39% of gross dome stic product, 85% of the labor force and 83% of foreign exchange earnings (Chirwa, Kidd & Dorward, 2006). Manufacturing plays a much less significant role accounting fo r only 11% of gross domestic product of which 26% is agro-processing (Chinsinga, 2007; Chirwa, et al ., 2006). Food insecurity remains a seri ous challenge (O rr & Mwale, 2001). Studies estimate that yearly maize productivity ranges between 320 and 770kg per household, which results in over 70-80% of all rural households be ing short of self-produced staple foods for 4 to 5 months (Owusu & Ngambi, 2002; Chinsinga, 2004 and 2007). Me mbers of poor households in rural Malawi can only satisfy 66% of their calorific requirements (Chinsinga, 2007). Households unable to produce sufficient amounts of food must ei ther purchase food, work as ganyu (casual) labor on other farms or join a food for work pr ogram. Two periods of extreme hunger, one in 2001/2002 and the other in 2004/2005 underscore th e severity of the situation. These experiences have turned food security into a highly charged political issue. Indeed, the 2001/2002 hunger crisis affected so many that food security appeared in the platforms of politicians, on the agendas of policy makers, in the programs of public bureaucracies, among the duties of village chiefs, and on the pages of national newspa pers (Sahely, Groelsema, Marchione & Nelson 2005: 17)4. 4 Quote for Chinsinga, 2007.


31 Methodology The research for this dissertation began in December 1996 after return ing to Malawi to do research und er a grant from the Gender and Soil Fertility in Africa Soils Management CRSP and continued through December 1998. The research c overed the entire countr y but centered entirely in the rural areas where food security and ferti lizer decisions are important. The fact that Malawi, like Caesars Gaul, is di vided into three regions where pol itical attitudes are influenced by ethnic identity, it was important to have the number of responde nts be proportionally representative of the general population distribution. Respondents in the Northern region, where population is much less than in the Central or th e Southern regions were limited to 50. In the Central region, 100 interviews were conducted while there were 150 interv iews in the heavily populated Southern region. A total of 294 responses were collected. Six research assistants were trained for the in terview process. Assi stants were chosen by education level5 and regional identity. One assistan t from the Northern region conducted interviews in the North, two from the Central region conducted intereview s in that region, and three assistants from the Southern region conducte d interviews there. Respondents were picked by a systematic process that was based on breaking larger units into smaller ones. As mentioned above, the country is already divided into th ree regions. Each region was divided up by traditional authority (TA) and five villages were randomly chosen in each TA with no village within five kilometers of the other. Respondent s in each village had to comprise at least one male, one married woman, and one female-headed household. Research assistants were to conduct no more than four interviews in a village and each assistant had to conduct a total of 50 interviews between October and December 1998. 5 All but one were students at Chancellor College The other was a school teacher from Malosa.


32 As I mentioned earlier, this research was conducted in the rural areas of Malawi. As such, the focus is at the local level on a population whose views and opi nions are considerably less represented in the literature on politics and democratic consolidation. Much of the literature on politics in Africa focuses more on institutions and activities at a higher level of politics. Attention to phenomena such as el ections and political parties are ju st an example and there is an abundance of literature attesting to this fact. Le ss attention is paid to rural villagers although they represent the bulk of Malawian society. Fo r this reason, it is important to hear from them since they potentially have th e numbers to change elections. Outline of the Study This study is divided into six chapters. In addition to this introductory chapter that provides the overview for this study and the pert inent issues, the second chapter contains the theore tical perspectives with a literature review of works regarding democratic consolidation and theories of the role of the state in development. In a much deeper disc ussion, it is shown how the two processes taking place almost simultaneously in Malawi affected each other from achieving what was initially promised. The analysis focus is on the structuring of power relations between Malawi and the international donor community in general and the IFIs in particular framing the discussion on why structural adjustment has not turned Malawis economy around and democracy has not responded with the policies that rural producer s want. Both processes are embedded in a different and contra dictory view of the role of th e state, which I argue conditions policy making. Of the two, the influence of structural adjustment policies on democratic consolidation is great enough to a ffect peoples faith in the ability of democracy to improve their lives. A political economy approach based on the IFIs belief that good economic policy comes about when the state is restricted from interfer ing is used for explanation. Teivainen (2002) refers to this as the politics of economism, which establishes reserved domains by the


33 insulation of specific concerns of government authority and substantive policy making from elected bodies. Di Palma (1997) calls it pre -empted democracy, designed to freeze or precommit the initiatives of the government a nd the government alike and Mkandirwire (1998) calls choiceless democracies. Chapter 3 reviews the literature regarding st ructural adjustment in general and then proceeds to discuss it in Malawi. The chapter establishes the cont ext of structural adjustment within which democratic consolidation takes pla ce. The focus is on fertilizer policy and the rational for the removal of the subsidy is investig ated. Chapter 4 is a discussion about research I conducted on decisions rural people make because of the structural adjustment policies that resulted in the lack of access to fertilizer. Decision tree models illustra te the constraints and choices available to rural producers because of economic structural adjustment. Chapter 5 provides the empirical evidence that tests the main hypothesis of this dissertation. The thesis is supported by people identifying the main factors in fluencing their lost faith in the promise of democracy. People expected democracy to addre ss their material conditions and improve their lives. When the power to that is restricted, democratic consolidation becomes less likely. Chapter 6 concludes with a discussion on th e significance of the study on the prospects for democratic consolidation. The premise is that the neoliberal ideology of the IFIs led to their insistence on removal of the fertilizer subsidy without considering other possible consequences, one of which was weakening peoples faith in th eir government and in democracy. One question of the many that arise from this work is whether that faith can be restored. The chapter concludes by examining the recent shift in pol icy by the newly electe d president with the reintroduction of fertilizer subsidies. Although a policy long desired, in the short run it appears


34 to make sense economically. Politically, specula tion also tends towards the positive but that remains an empirical question. This work has two ambitions. The first, rooted in the thesis, is to shed additional light on what should the role of the state be in newly democratic countries that also are very poor. Citizens in a poor country have greater material needs than in richer, de veloped, and established democracies and thus context matters. The soci o-economic conditions in poor countries suggests that if people are to broadl y support democratic governance a necessary condition for a new democracy to consolidate it must be able to respond effectively. The point is particularly impor tant for both political scientists as well as development economists. For political scientists, understand ing that democracy has both intrinsic and substantive dimensions and that neither can be neglected if consolidation is to take place. However, as it is argued here that the context within which consolidation takes place matters and matters a lot, in poor democracies the material concerns of people have to be effectively addressed. The other issue is for the development economis ts, particularly those who find the idea of a free market very appealing. The point to ponder for them is why structural adjustment has not supplied the benefits to Malawi after democracy. One place to l ook for an answer is in limiting the policy domain for the new government. Wit hout the opportunity to respond with policies that address citizens preferences, the new de mocracy cannot increase state capacity making affects democratic consolidation as conceived and practiced by the inte rnational community has not worked. Building state capacity is not just essential for the c onsolidation of democracy; it is vital for the carrying out of economic reform. It is time to reconsider the means to the end.


35 The second ambition of this study is to confr ont what has been done to people in Malawi in the name of structural adjustment and as k why, when faced with facts and evidence of mounting suffering, there was no wavering or rec onsideration, only a great unwillingness to abandon the theory and side with people. As yields went down and food insecurity went up, hunger increased, and famine rose, the donors and IFIs determination to keep fertilizer subsidies from being reinstituted forces us to admit that we have the answer to the question that haunted me on that morning in July 1995. What does no development look like? Look at Malawi and see. The little boy in Blantyre might pose a much different question yet it is one echoed by millions all wanting to know why they are made to carry so much of the burden. The gods of Greek mythology are long gone but there are new gods of modern times and they reside not on Mt. Olympus but in Washington, D.C. The epicente r of their power is at the World Bank and the IMF, two buildings next to each other, a couple of blocks from the White House and the Treasury Building. If Sisyphus could put down his burden for a moment and go to where he could ask that question, he would want to go to Washington.


36 CHAPTER 2 AFTER THE WAVE Two things tend to happen: your econom y grows and your politics shrinks that is why it is increasingly difficult these days to find any real differences between ruling and opposition parties in those countries that have put on the golden straightjacket. Once your country puts on the golden stra ightjacket, its political choi ces get reduced to Pepsi or Coke to slight nuances of tastes, slight nuances of policy, slight alte rations in design to account for local traditions, some loosening he re or there, but never any major deviation from the core golden rules Thomas Friedman (cited in The Economist 2001:22). In 1990, the third wave of democratization6 arrived at the African country of Benin. Soon thereafter political change was sweeping away many citadels of authoritarianism across the continent and in the process aw akening a palpable sense of hope and optimism dormant since the early years after independence. In 1993, a re ferendum on multiparty democracy announced that the wave arrived on Malawis shor e. People greeted it with great enthusiasm and anticipation. It was not just Africans who suddenly found themselves facing a future full of possibilities. Scholars interested in politics and democratic transition in Africa began to imagine the Africa about to emerge. Most were optimistic.7 Considering sub-Saharan Africas political history since independence (from here on re ferred to as Africa), the optimism was understandable and deserving. However, in a very short time the initial euphoria and enthusiastic belief that African societies had turned a corner began to erode under a growing sense that not all was well with democracy (Barkan, 2000; Ottaway, 1998; Joseph 1999a). The prospects of consolidating demo cracy started to fade in one country after a nother (Diamond, 1996; Decalo, 1992; Joseph, 1999b). Soon the World Bank and other international donors, in what Ayittey calls a futile exercise in grand delusion (Ayittey, 1998:12) were parading the few 6 Samuel Huntington used the metaphor of a wave as a way to think about the rapid ascendancy of democracy taking place throughout the world in the la st third of the twentieth century. See The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century University of Oklahoma Press, 1991 by Samuel Huntington. 7 See for example Diamond, 1 990 and Gyimah-Boadi,1998.


37 African success stories out as if three or four countries out of forty-se ven was enough proof of a positive trend to somehow turn the tide on a growing skepticism.8 As seen in Table 2-1, there is little change in the few countries ranked by Free dom House as free over the past fifteen years and provides some basis to why faith in democratic consolidation is fading. Democratic consolidation in Africa appears stalled or as Richard Joseph says, settled in some half-way house (Joseph, 1997: 378; Barkan, 2000; Carothers, 1997; Sandbrook, 1996; Ihonvbere & Mbaku, 1998; Ottaway, 1999; Lemarchand, 1992). A much more cynical view is expressed by Ayittey who points to elite rule even after electio ns as still the parasitic vampires who head a vampire state gorging themselves on the producti on of the poor (Ayittey, 2005: 21-22). Why has this occurred in a continent where for d ecades so many millions bore the burden of venal government and suffered unsparingly? How is it that so many countries have frustratingly achieved only partial democratization? No single explanation suffices. It is a very complex affair the result of many different processes across the historical and cr oss-cultural context that is Africa.9 The shape, form and direction of political liberalizat ion varies considerably across the continent. Previous regime type out of which liberalization emerges is very influential on the proces s but it is not the only factor. Social structures and multi-ethnic societ ies, religion and language differences also have tremendous influence as does the structure and health of economies. One thing is clear and that is the transition from authoritarian regimes is a dynamic process influenced by both domestic and 8 According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa is comprised of forty-seven states. 9 Not all democratic transitions are the same nor are they all stuck in the same degree. Freedom House (mentioned above) indicators show how countries are sliding forward and back on its scale. However speaking of Africa in this broad and general way regrettably conflates all democratizing countries losing the distinctive qualities in the process. Acknowledg ing the differences however does not weak en the generally accepted conclusion that democratization in Africa has stalled and most countri es exisit in a grey area be tween authoritarianism and consolidated democracies


38 external factors. Nevertheless, democracy arri ved but progress towards consolidation remains up in the air. Looking at Table 2-1 begs the ques tion: what caused consolidation to run out of steam? Table 2-1: Measure of demo cratic consolidation of sub-Saharan African states Number of states Year Free (%) Partially free (%) Not free (%) Total 1990 4 ( 9)15 (33)27 (59)46 1991 8 (18) 19 (41)19 (41)46 1992 9 (19) 23 (50)14 (30)46 1993 8 (17) 15 (32)24 (51)47 1994 8 (17) 17 (36)22 (47)47 1995 9 (19) 19 (40)19 (40)47 1996 9 (19) 19 (40)19 (40)47 1997 9 (19) 18 (38)20 (42)47 1998 9 (19) 20 (42)18 (38)47 1999 8 (17) 23 (49)16 (34)47 2000 9 (19) 23 (49)15 (32)47 2001 9 (19) 24 (51)14 (30)47 2002 11 (23) 20 (42)16 (34)47 2003 11 (23) 19 (40)17 (36)47 2004 11 (23) 20 (42)16 (34)47 2005 11 (23) 22 (47)14 (30)47 Average 9 (19) 20 (42)18 (38)47 Source: Calculated from Freedom House data 2008 One contributing factor concerni ng this dissertation is that Ma lawi, like virtually all the countries of Africa, experienced an earlier wave of change: economic structural adjustment. In Malawis case, the wave of structural reform arrived in 1981 when Malawi agreed to a program of structural adjustment with the International Monetary Fund. Few would argue that at the time structural adjustment was urgently necessary in order to restore a deteriorating economy back to health. However, structural adjustment had another unforeseen affect: it would establish the context within whic h political democratization was to take place. Although structural adjustment was expected to be a short-term project lasting no more than three to five years, Africas economic situation proved to be much more intractable and po litical regimes more


39 resistant to full implementation, significantly ex panding the time line to economic stability and growth (Ravenhill, 1988; Sahn & Arul pragasam, 1994; World Bank, 1989). Nonetheless, most African countries under going political liberalization do share one thing and that is economic unde rdevelopment. African countries are disproportionately occupying the bottom third of the poorest countries in the world10 and are falling further behind the rest of the worl d as Figure 2-1 shows. Figure 2-1: Human Development Index 10 According to the United Nations Human Development Report, 28 of the 31 poorest countries in the world are in Africa. Of the 30 least livable countries in the world, 28 are in Africa. See Human Development Report 2006, UNDP, website: http://www.hdr.undp.org 1975 1985 1995 2004 HDI 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 High Income OECD Central and Eastern Europe and CIS Latin America and Caribbean East Asia and the Pacific Arab States South Asia Sub Saharan Africa Source: UNDP, 2006.


40 As such, structural adjustment essentially occurs at the same time political reform was introduced but having already established the framew ork for policy decisions. It is in this sense that the political economy of stru ctural adjustment may have a greater influence on Malawis and by extension, Africas consolidation of democracy. Using Malawi as a case study, this dissertati on examines the effect SAPs have on the prospects for democratic consolidation. It pl aces itself in the middle of the policy debate regarding structural adjustment and political de velopment in Africa. The relationship between the economic and the political strongly suggests th at SAPs will have an influence on democratic consolidation. However, I believe that influence will be negative in that it hinders democratic consolidation. The basis for my belief rests on th e fact that the requirements of consolidation and the requirements of structural adjustment ar e inadvertently working at cross purposes starkly exposed by each ones perspective on the role of the state. To make such a claim, it is important to recognize that the interact ion between economic structural adjustment and democratization creates a dynamic that can affect the implemen tation and completion of both processes. Adam Przeworski writes that "The strate gic problem of transition is to get to democracy without being either killed by those who have arms or starved by those who control productive resources" (Przeworski, 1991:51). Although Mala wis new democracy fortunately has little reason to fear those with the arms, it may be worth paying a ttention to those who control the policymaking instruments. A Different View of State Significance Key to my investigation is first to understa nd the logic or assumpti ons of both political and economic liberalization and how each considers the role of the st ate. Political liberalization or democratization in effect means th e process that begins the opening up of the political space. Moreover, it assumes a dichotomous representati on of two spheres, one public, and one private


41 and that the political space exists within the public sphere. It is here where politics, which is all activities that shape and produce public outcomes, takes place. Economic policy is situated in the public realm and theref ore is a political activity. Democratization is a process that conceptually means that as the politics as defined above moves away from authoritarianism, power once concentrated under author itarianism is diffused to formerly excluded groups resulting in an ex panded political sphere. Naturally, the newly included interested groups and constituencies will influence public policy making. The belief in the instrumentality or effectiveness of democracy that is it delivers the goods is strengthened by the subsequent openne ss providing vital energy to democratic institutionalization and ultimately consolidation. In short, democracy broadens the boundaries of the public sphere as more people influence and sh ape the policies that affect them the most and in doing so, deepen democracy. How they go a bout influencing and shap ing public policies is not my concern at this point. Central to my thesis are two closel y related phenomena that I argue are indispensable for the co nsolidation of democracy. The firs t is the transformative power of democracy regarding the political and is evident in the link between the opening of political space and the deepening of demo cracy as suggested above. However, as democracy enlarges the public s phere it necessarily expands the role of the state since there is increasing demands for public policies (Pzreworsk i, Stokes & Manain, 1999). This distributional or di stributive characteristic of democracy is what instigates the second phenomena: increasing the role of the state. As democra tic institutions deepen and mitigate conflicts between group s the states role as the implementer of policies and distributor of resources requ ires increasing state administ rative capacity (Putnam, 1993;


42 Diamond, 1999). Democracy not only disperses power but, in doing so, also increases the scope and capacity of the state. Moreover, by respond ing to popular expect ations it is not just the scope and capacity of the state that experiences an increase. Indeed, responsiveness helps create and maintain state legitimacy immeasur ably (Rothstein, 2007; Dahl, 2006; Putnam, 1993). As to economic structural adjustment, the second is equally tr ansformative in its power. However, structural ad justment policies are based on a much different perspective and logic than democracy. They are specific in struments of a process of economic liberalization nested in the id eology of neoliberalism. This perspective regards the dichotomous spheres as not that of public and private but of po litical and economic (Teivainen, 2002). It is an important distinction because in the former the democracy perspective economic policymak ing is a public function and thus political. However, in the neoliberal perspective, specific econo mic policymaking takes place outside of the political or public. In essence, the neolib eal view removes economic policies from public struggle and deliberation effe ctively detaching an integral area of state functions from society (Teivainen, 2002). Structural adjustme nt policies expose the separation between the economic sphere and the political sphere by creating a boundary th at domestic political activities cannot cross (Teiva inen, 2002; Mkandawire, 1998). The consequences are far ranging and deserve serious reflection. One consequence in particular concerns state legitimization, which is particul arly challenging in Africa (C habal, 1994). By separating the economic from the political, structural adjustment polic ies, being nested in the neoliberal perspective, make state legitimization much more difficult.


43 This is clearly apparent in the purpose and implementation of SAPs, which are designed to address critical and dysfunctional ma croeconomic policies. They reveal a very different view of power and th e role of the stat e as to the one held by theorists of democratic consolidation. Paradoxically, the ro le of the state is to implement the policies however, implementation in this context require s a non-intrusive, defl ated, weakened state with minimum capacity to derail economic liberalization. The question is whether a state with minimum capacity to derail economic stru ctural adjustment is also a state with minimum capacity to implement the same policies. This contradictory and paradoxical view of th e role of the state and what is required of it, is where the problem between economic liberalization and democratic consolidation emerges and it leads to questions of who c ontrols state power and how does that affect state institutional performa nce? On the one hand, as many scholars argue, a deep democracy with functioning institutions require s a state capable at not only mediating political conflicts within stat e institutions but also respond ing to popular expectations concerning the distribution of services and resources (Grugel, 1999; Pzreworski, et al., 1999; Putnam, 1993; Daimond, 1999). On the other hand, SAPs require a smaller state with reduced capacity to engage in such activities. The tension between democratic consolidation and economic liberalization is evident. Democratic Consolidation To have a better appreciation of the tension be tween these two processes it is important to understand just what consolidation is and what factors influenc e democratic consolidation. I argue that consolidation of democracy is difficult to attain because it depends on many factors, which are very contextually rooted. Thus, the prospects for consolidation require a much wider


44 and multi-dimensional approach all the time bei ng sensitive to the context within which it occurs. In its most basic sense, consolidation results with regime institutionalization and legitimization (Morlino, 1995). At that point, democracy is re silient and able to fend off alternative forms of governance. However, fo r democracy to achieve consolidation it has to mean more to the majority of the people than just through its formal features such as free elections. The focus needs to expand to those factors that either en able or constrain the stabilization and legitimization of new democracies (Scmitz & Sell, 1999). Consolidation is not simply the continuation of reforms and the changes to the status quo that began with liberalization and transition but aims at solidifying the new achievements, habituating the new ways of political interaction and deepening the nature of the new democracy (ibid: 25). Consolidation goes beyond th e basic conceptualization of movement away from authoritarian rule to democracy. Other developments need closer and fuller examination. With a much-broadened view, consolidation is more likely to occur when democracy becomes substantive. Two indicators help determine the development into a substantive democracy. The first is when the intrinsic values and ideas within the new democratic institutions are accepted throughout society without any real opposing al ternative to democracy being offered or discussed. The second indication of substantive democracy is the participation of the majority of people in the political process. However, what is meant by participation of the majority is deceiving since a majority of 50% plus 1 is very different from 60% or above. Instead, participation in a substantive democracy may be a better indication of consolidation if it is monitored over time as well as stays above a certain threshold.11 This is particularly true in a 11 Diamond (1999) suggests that public support for democracy should be at a minimum threshold of two-thirds with 70-75 percent a much stronger indication. He, too, argue s for a time element that consistently shows support at


45 new democracy where legitimacy is still devel oping. For example, if the participation in elections is declining or people c hoose not to participate in other ways such as attend meetings to address issues and concerns, then that raises questions whether a substantive democracy exists. There is good reason to be concerned about de mocratic consolidation. Not long after the arrival of the third wave of democracy, there we re indications that substantive democracy was still some distance away. By the mid to later 1990s, new and less promising adjectives such as illiberal (Zakaria, 1997), limite d or pseudo (ODonnell, 1994) were used to describe the new democracies. It became very clear that conso lidation would be more difficult than at first believed. As Grugel (1999: 163) incisively states Not all democratizatio n leads to democracy. As the third wave ebbed, a search for explan ations filled the space. Potter (1997) broke down the search into three broad approaches with different foci. First is the transition approach that focuses on political processes and elite choices and maneuverings that accounted for the shift from authoritarian to liberal democracy (Potter, 1997) Labeled transitology, the significance of this approach is that it highlights the choices and strategies that influence democratization and would naturally have to in fluence the prospect of consolidation. One serious flaw with the transitology approach is that its focus is t oo limited in that it looks almost exclusively at formal developments such as elect ions, political parties, and rule of law. Theoretically opposite the transiti on approach is the structura list. Here the emphasis is on relations and structures of pow er in society that are either favorable or unfavorable to democratization and consolidation (ibid). Accord ing to the structuralis t approach, the chances for successful consolidation in particular soci eties hinges on these power relations. How power these levels as well as only a minority of around 15 percen t question the democratic legitimacy. He does not put as much emphasis on voter turnout arguing that democracy can be consolidated with even low turnout, although pointing out that it would most likely be a low-quality democracy that gets consolidated (Diamond, 1999: 68)


46 is structured helps us understand why some societies have a much harder time achieving consolidated democracy than othe rs. Although there is a tendency to reject the conclusion of path dependency that naturally comes out of st ructuralism, nevertheless, its usefulness is gathering adherents. The third explanatory approach is moderniz ation theory. Once the leading theory in development, it has been resurrected by scholar and more vigorously by the IFIs although with some adaptations. Modernization has a long history going back to Lipset (1959) who was one of the first to argue that democracy highly correlates with social and economic development. In the early years, modernization theory dominated th e development discourse but within a decade, events around the world either disproved mode rnization theorys assumptions or greatly weakened its explanatory power. Moderniza tion theory waned as scholars adopted other perspectives. However, never pronounced dead modernization theory has since made a strong comeback (Inglehart & Welzel, 2005; Daimond, Li nz & Lipset, 1995). Afte r nearly two decades of state led development failures, this revi sed version of modernization once again linked political development and economic developm ent only now political development meant democracy. A number of scholarly works appeared arguing that in regards to development, the political mattered. For example, Lipset, Se ong and Torres (1993) argued that the correlation between development and democracy was stronger and more pronounced by the early 1980s than in the late 1950s (Lipset et al ., 1993: 157) when Lipsets or iginal landmark study was carried out. According to modernization theory, one significant reason why democracy fails to consolidate is poor economic development. The ar gument is made that the consolidation process is better understood when socio-economic conditions are included. Democracies thrive or die


47 based on socio-economic variables. For example, democracies are more likely to survive where poverty and inequality are limited and levels of education and income generally high (Diamond, Linz & Lipset, 1995: 53). New democracies with great and widespread poverty are therefore greatly challenged. Embedded in this view is that the performa nce of democracy has to be significant enough for the public to insist that democracy remain. As Diamond says, Performance of the regime is a crucial variable affecting th e development and internalizati on of beliefs about democracy (Diamond, 1999:77). Thus, consolidation is th e process by which democracy becomes so broadly and profoundly legitimate a nd so habitually practiced and observed that is very unlikely to breakdown (Diamond, et al. 1995:53). However, to arrive th ere the regime has to respond to public needs. What we see unfolded in this line of argument is that legitimacy and consolidation are tightly bound together. Regime legitimacy is not solely dependent on responding to what the people want; other values that come with democr acy are important. However, it is, as Daimond says, crucial. A regime seen as responsive build s a large reservoir of legitimacy (ibid: 77). Moreover, as responsiveness continues legitimacy d eepens which in turn signals elites and others that democracy is the only g ame in town (Linz, 1990). Another benefit of responsiveness and deep ening legitimacy is that a reciprocal relationship develops between the democratic regime and society (Diamond, 1999). Thus, by responding to what people want, a democratic re gime banks the earned good will for future use. At some point when confronting serious problems that necessita tes unpopular policies, the good will is returned with support and patience (ibid).


48Democratic Consolidation an d Economic Liberalization It is very clear that responsiveness is a key variable in consolidating democracy. Responsiveness builds legitimacy and that in tur n, helps consolidation. Therefore this inquiry into how economic liberaliz ation influences the prospects for democratic consolidation in a poor country particularly salient. As noted by Przeworski, Alvarez, Ceibub, and Limogi (2000) economic development matters as to survival of democracy. They show quite convincingly that prospect of democracy enduring correlate signif icantly with GDP per cap ita. For example, in their findings democracy persists and consolidat es in countries where the GDP is above $6000. However, in countries where the GDP per capita is $3000 or less, democracies have very short life spans. The strong relationship between a threshold level of economic development and sustaining democracy is instructive but the co ntrary is worrisome for deeply impoverished countries like Malawi. One reason why broad based poverty thre atens democracy is that poor countries foster poor states and poor states are incapable of responding to the needs of the people and in turn, throws the legitimacy of the state in to question. If a better way of addressing the socio-economic needs of the people is offered, then people are likely to take it. Essentially, the prevalence of poverty and low income doom democr acy to a short life, perhaps an interregnum between two undemocratic regimes. Przeworski et al. (2000) work accentuates the importance of what is at stake as these two processes occur at relatively the same time. In Malawis case, the essential challenge of democracy is to establish institutions rooted in society where poverty as well as other social problems impose their own interpretation of how democratic institutions should function. Greater demands and expectations on democra tic governments can and should significantly arrange institutional development to bring government and society together. However, as discussed above, SAPs place different demands and requirements on government, restricting


49 latitude in policy formulation. Where democracy requires a greater sensitivity of government to social demands, structural adjustment reorients g overnment away from society and towards fiscal austerity. There is, then, a conf lict in philosophy regard ing the state: democracy calls for state capability while structural adjustme nt calls for state contraction. The two are not necessarily incompatible Where democracy has already been consolidated with deep institutions, a diminishment of state welfare provision poses a much more limited effect on democracys sustainability (P zerworski et.al, 2000). However, in a poor country that transitioned to de mocracy and seeks now to consolidate, the weakening the state may result in neither economic growth nor democr atic consolidation. W ithout question, Malawi faces a daunting challenge of deepening democr atic institutions while implementing economic reform policies; policies that ju st about everyone agrees are n ecessary for economic stability. It is also vital that we recognize that deep ening democratic institutions is not the litmus test of consolidation. Important as that is, we cannot ignore democratic politics if we want a fuller understanding of what consolid ation entails. The two are di fferent yet as I argue, form a dyadic relationship, which without both being considered makes consolidation processes incomplete. As for democratic consolidation in Malawi, Mkandawire (2006) provides a useful distinction between the two while emphasizing the significance of their relationship. Whereas democratic institutions are the methods and proc edures for legitimizing rules and assuring that political contestation that is free and fair, democratic pol itics emphasizes participation, equality and emancipation (Mkandawire, 2006:26). He goes on to state that [W]e have learned that concern for demo cratic politics without due respect for institutions can lead to popu list authoritarian regimes. But we also know that democracy is not simply a question of rules and institutions, but also of the content and purpose of these instit utions and rules and that the failure by democratic institutions to foster democratic politics has produced lifeless institutions that have done little to address serious issues of poverty and inequality, producing instead


50democracy with tears which has in many cases has rebounded on itself (Mkandawire, 2006:26) Mkandawires point is at the heart of this dissertation. Limiting the democratic process to the extent that policies once considered wort hy of political deliberation and contestation are no longer within the scope of politic s shows the futility of considering democratic spaces as the place to compete over state resources. Like Mkanda wire, I argue that consolidation falters and in its place personalistic politics, neopatrimonilais m and clientalism become the means by which state resources are dispersed. Diminishing democr atic politics encourages the return of the old political order threatening both c onsolidation and economic growth. Hypothesis Africas persistent economic and political underdevelopment provides strong evidence of how difficult simultaneous adoption of economic a nd political liberalizati on can be. After over three decades of economic reform policies and ov er twenty years of pol itical liberalization, performance in both areas falls far short of initial expect ations. Moreover, there is little evidence to encourage even the most optimistic observer th at the trajectory for growth and democracy is sufficient to say that a corner has been turn ed. Since political and economic reform are occurring at virtually the same time throughout th e continent, it is worth questioning whether the two processes are compatible particularly in light of the fact that historic ally very few societies simultaneously embarked on radical economic and political reform in such a short time frame.12 Africas grand social experiment has so far pr oduced little success (C hazan & Rothchild, 1993; 12 After the fall of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Russia and former republics in the Soviet Union embarked on the economic and political reform (capitalism and democracy) with varying degrees of success. For a good review of the different experiences see Jan Svejnar Transition Economies: Performance and Challenges The Journal of Economic Perspectives 16(1) (Winter, 2002), pp. 3-28.


51 Easterly, 2001; Przeworski, et.al 2000; Mka ndawire & Soludo, 1999; Iheduru, 1999; Rodrik, 2002). The main issue that this study explores is how economic adjustment has influenced the institutionalization and consolidatio n of democratic principles and procedures. In order to answer that question, I am exploring the perception of democracy in regard s to government effectiveness and performance in rural Malawi where over 80 % of the population is economically active. I hypothesize that government failure to respond to the expectations of the rural population will weaken their faith in democracy. This perc eption of democratic performance goes beyond the formal definition of democracy. Important as the fo rmal definition is, it is incapable of capturing this idea of state legitimacy tied to popular expectati ons. Although I find cri ticism with much of the transition literature that tends to separate th e political from the economic, I am not dismissing the significance of that important stream of literature nor of the vital meaning of free and fair elections, an independent judi ciary, a free, unrestrained pre ss, role of civil society.13 Instead, my interest is centered on policies and the politics (or lack of) that produce those policies. It is my argument that just as a free press, secondary elect ions and an independent judiciary are important developments in democratic inst itutionalization and consolidation, so too is the responsiveness of democratic government to popular e xpectations and demands, partic ularly those that deal with the very basics of subsistence and survival. 13 For example, regarding elections and their repletion as significantly contributing to deepening democracy, see S. Lindberg (2006), Democracy and Elections in Africa, John Hopkins Press as well as T he Surprising Significance of African Elections Journal of Democracy 17(1) January 2006. Regarding civil society and democratization see L. Diamond (1994) "Rethinking Civil Society: Toward Democratic Consolidation," Journal of Democracy 5(3), July, pp. 4-17. Also see Bratton (1989) Beyond the Stat e: Civil Society and Associ ational Life in Africa, World Politics, Vol.41, No. 3, April. For a more general description of civil society in Africa see E. Gyimah-Boadi, (1996) Civil Society in Africa Journal of Democracy 7(2), April pp: 118-132. For a thorough discussion on transitions see M. Bratton and N. van der Wahl (1997) Democratic Experiments in Africa: Regime Transitions in a Comparative Perspective Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


52 When Malawis democratically elected government came to power, it was confronted by two distinct constituencies each with their own demands. On the one side stood the World Bank, the IMF 14 and external donors and creditors demanded that economic liberalization proceed under the guidance of mark et forces and limited or no state interference. On the other side the poor domestic majorities demanded the new government implement policies addressing their economic and material condition. The government was in the middle, caught in a difficult situation. It s financial survival was dependent on the IFIs and external donors but its political survival wa s in the hands of the voters. It could not respond satis factorily to both at the same time. Continuing with economic liberalization would result in frustration and unpopularity with th e majority of the population. However, yielding to the majority demands woul d most likely result in the withdrawal of financial support from the donors. For a number of reasons, I believe that Mala wis democracy became the victim of this dilemma. Due to Malawis heavy dependenc y on foreign aid and assistance, and the powerlessness that ensues from it, Malawis government resorted to maintaining a democracy with little substance. Electi ons are held, debate rages in Pa rliament, there is a constitution proclaiming the rule of law15 the minimum requirements for meeting the political conditionalities of internationa l donors. As to responding to th e socio-economic demands of the 14 From here on when referring to both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund I will use the acronym IFIs for International Financial Institutions. 15 The rule of law is the essential foundation of a democratic society and formally, it exists in Malawi. However, it has different meanings for different groups. While Malawi ans profess a commitment to the rule of law, (according to Afrobarometer) the weak state that underpins structural adjustment is unable to enforce the rule of law in the countryside. There is a sad irony that for the most part the rule of law in Malawi is more about procedural and constitutional issues. In the countryside, village justice is frequently applied sometimes in a very appalling manner.


53 populace, the government usually ignores them although in urban areas and during election campaigns, it resorts to the some of the old authoritarian practices of clientalism. The paradox with economic lib eralization and democratic consolidation occurring simultaneously is that neither is achieving their ob jectives and their failure poses a threat to the emergence of a consolidated democracy. Moreover, promoting democracy and economic liberalism together has not only prevented the process of democratiz ation from progressing beyond the electoral stage, but as I will argue, has reduced the ability of a democratic state to build the capacity necessary to carry out policies geared towards a more equitable social and economic order. By narrowing the policy agenda, structural adjustment changes th e relationship of the state to society. Essentially, by insisting on a policy framework that effectively sealed off specific policies donors and creditors exhibit the power to curtail governments ability to respond to the demands of the majority in a substantial an d meaningful way but also severs the ability of citizens to influence governmen t decision processes. For th is reason, the World Banks good governance discourse has midwifed the birt h of fragile and incomplete democracies, deforming the relationship of the governed to the government by adjusting the lines of responsiveness and accountability away from the voices of the poor and towards the demands of external actors. Structural Adjustment Justified in the Context of African Politics It has been som ewhat fashionable in the pa st two decades to criticize the World Bank, IMF and other proponents of structural adjustment (Dembele, 2004; Dreher, 2006; Kherallah Delgado, Gabre-Madhin, Minot, & Johnson, 2000; Green, 1998; Cornia & Court, 2001; Fantu, 1995; Gibbon, 1992). Much of the criticism has concerned the pain cau sed by imposing these policies, which called for fiscal balance and debt repayment at the expense social safety nets and


54 investments in human development. Indeed even the World Bank came to some realization that the social cost of adjustment was unsustainabl e adjusting its aim by calling for an adjustment with a human face (Cornia, Jo lly & Stewart, 1987; Jolly, 1991; Adedeji, 1988). Other criticisms centered more on SAPs as a new col onialism and evidence of the neoimperialism of globalization processes dominated by the develo ped North (Ayittey, 2005; Grugel, 1999; Loxley & Sedden, 1994; Campbell, 2001; Leonard & Stra us, 2003; Ohmae, 1995; Arrighi, 2002). Here the issue was about infringement on state sovere ignty with policies that were forced onto countries with the imperatives of so lidifying world capitalist domination. Both streams of criti cal literature make strong argument s and suggest that SAPs may be driven by multiple agendas. However, there is rationality under girding SAPs and the role of the state and that is the absolute lack of faith in th e ability of the African st ate to carry out necessary macroeconomic reforms. Even if we admit th at the neoliberal ideo logy is problematic and falling short for African countries to ach ieve economic prosperi ty, proponents could convincingly argue that business as usual would be worse (Sahn, 1992; Noorbakhsh & Paloni, 2001). This business as usual means past poli tics as practiced in Afri ca and how it contributed to Africas profound underdevelopment. Politics in Africa The percep tion of politics in Africa is not charitable by a long shot. Corrupt, unstable, violent, and oppressive are adject ives commonly used in both the past and present to describe African politics (e.g., Joseph, 1999a ; Bayart, 1993; Zakaria, 1 997). Moreover, Africas persistent and devastating poverty is seen because of the failure of politics (Chabal, 1994; Bates, 1981). It is what drives the ra tionality mentioned above of econo mic liberalization as applied to Africa and the impetus behind the cu rtailment of the state. A br ief overview of the relationship


55 between politics and development hi ghlights the literature that has helped frame one of the more common perceptions of politics in Africa. Numerous works essentially characteri ze politics in Africa generally as malgovernance. For example, one of the earliest works on clientalism and its effects on development was by Rene Lemarchand and Keith Legg (1972) as well as the particular problems patron-clientalist politics posed in tr ying to create a nati on out of the colonial legacy (Lemarchand, 1972; Le wis, 1996a; Lemarchand, 1988). Others have noted both the durability and malleability of patron-cl ientalism in Africa even as economic and political liberalization supposedl y mounted a serious if not mort al challenge to the practice and usher in good governance (L emarchand, 1988; Hyden, 2006). Along the same line as well is a very recent contribution by van der Walle (2006) arguing that political clientalism is very flexible.16 Arguably, the most durable description of politics in Africa is the personal rule paradigm. (Leonard & Strauss, 2003: 2). A lthough the concept of personal rule is mostly associated with Jackson and Rosbergs influen tial work on personal rule (1982), they were not the first to identify this type of politics in Africa. Variations on the theme include patronclientalism, neopatrimonialism, rent seeking and prebendalism but all fit nicely under the more embracing concept of personalistic rule. Jackson and Rosbergs concept of personal rule stands ou t because focuses on the role of the head of state as key to understanding how patrimonialism operates and goes farthest in capturing the sense of what is ultimately at stake in terms of polit ics in Africa (Jackson & 16 For a discussion on the origins of neopatrim onial economic policy that condition implem entation of structural reforms see van der Walle African Economies and the Politi cs of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999, especially chapter 3.


56 Rosberg, 1982). Viewed through this paradigm the African state is expose d as the prize in politics and the means for personal gain (Chabal, 1994; Bayart, 1993). Some might temper this char acterization of politics in Af rica as too narrow for a full appreciation of the context with in which African polit ics takes place. Chabal and Deloz (1999) have a much different interpretation of the effects of personal rule arguing that if politics in Africa is framed by disorder, then patrimonia lism and patron-clientalism are the means to manage the uncertainty that accompanies disorder. Going deeper and relating to social relations, both Hyden (1980) and Scott (1976) say that personal rule and pa tron-clientalism is not about individual gain. They argue th at it is embedded in community and cultural norms or what is called a moral economy (Scott, 1976) or t he economy of affection (Hyden, 1980). Other scholars see politics in Africa as much less flexible. For example, structuralist arguments highli ght Africas socio-economic factors as a more powerful explanation for underdevelopment (Hyden 2006 ). Leonard and Straus (2003) cite enclave economies as effectively obstruct deve lopment. These struct uralists proceed to argue that politics in countr ies that produce oil, gold, and other valuable minerals are significantly more vulnerable to civil strife and conflict (Hyden 2006:3). Others claim that it is Africas position in the world economy that determines development. Africas production of primary commodities and dependence on manufactured imports and energy, and asymmetrical terms of tr ade makes countries highly vulnerable to world price swings and external shocks (Mkandawire & Soludo, 1999). Similar perspectives look at the power and control foreign countries have on African economies. For example, Yates (1996) shows how France remains significantly involv ed in its former colony Gabon and how that relationship has contributed to Gabons lack of development. Research in countries with rich


57 resources claims that democracy is not a high pr iority and in fact, there is no incentive by the leaders to initiate democratic transitions.17 However, countries with little or no mineral wealth provide little incentive for direct foreign investment. Many Afri can states that are in this situation remain highly dependent on foreign aid and assistance, which has the same perverse incentives as enclave production limiting the interest of political rule rs to develop a set of rights and obligations with the public (Hyden, 2006: 4). Significant as this structuralist perspective is it failed to give as equal an influence on politics as the choices of Afri can leaders had on state performa nce since independence. For many, Africas dismal situation is better explained by rational choice theory and individuals incentives to use the state for political gain. In this stream of liter ature, Robert Bates groundbreaking study of agricultural markets in Kenya has been singled out as the work that rationalized structural ad justment and to this day stands out as one of the seminal works in the African political economy literature. Providing a powerful perspective on state ec onomic policy, Bates opened the gates for the advocates of new measures for Africas economic recovery. Arguing that bad economics makes good politics, Bates convincingly demons trated that policies that were neither economically rational nor beneficial to the majority of society were politic ally rational and that the social and economic costs of bad policy were outweighed by the political benefits that accrue to political leaders and the groups that maintain them in power (Bates, 1981). Bates analysis reached sympathetic audi ences in the development community and academia frustrated with the deteriorating economic conditions, malfunctioning markets, 17 A good description of how resources are a disincentive for democratic change set in an African context is Yates, 1996 The Rentier State in Africa: Oil Rent Dependency and Neocolonialism in the Republic of Gabon, Trenton,NJ: Africa World Press


58 blatantly corrupt and despotic ru lers and the persistent stagnati on on the continent. The World Bank lined up with Bates issuing what would be known as the Berg, after its chief author. The report was significant for stating its opinion that Africas stagnating econ omies were more the result of poor politics (World Bank, 1981). The ground shifted quickly and as a result a reassessment of development theory in genera l and the relationship of regime types and development in particular was erected upon Africas plight. Politics in Af rica was seen less and less as being about state legitimization and the building of state ca pacity to carry out development and more concerned about persona l political survival and endurance. Patronclientalism, neopatrimonialism, rent seeking, preb endalism, personalistic rule continued to be synonymous with governance in Africa (van der Wahl, 2006). Although it would take almost another decade before the end of the Cold War brought the third wa ve of democracy to Africa, in effect the weakening of author itarianism and the context within which political liberalization would take place arrived with the first wave of change: structural adjustment. With the Cold War still ensuing, the IFIs had no intention of weakening existing political authority or radically changing anything. Structural adjustment was designed to address a spreading and severely deepeni ng macroeconomic crisis in order for African governments to be able to pay their debts, and not to deal with po litical regime-type. In fact, if anything, political change went against accepted be lief at the time of the initial loans (Huntington & Nelson, 1976; Kohli, 1986; Beckman, 1992). As noted at the time by Almond and Powell, state building and economy building are logically prio r to political participation a nd material distribution, since power sharing and welfare sharing are dependent on there being power and welfare to share (Almond & Powell, 1966: 363). Initially, the IFIs adopted a technicist position where it was assumed that they could remain politically neutral (Bangura & Gibbon, 1992: 11). After all,


59 when the first stabilization and structural adjust ment policies were adopted, authoritarian regimes were thought to be better suited for implementing economic policies, partic ularly policies that would be painful for society (Lal, 2002). It was not just theoretical either. Even as Huntingtons earlier work was seen as providing the intellect ual rationalization for acce ptance of authoritarian regimes in developing countries, it was the East Asian countries and Pinochets Chile that provided the empirical support.18 However, Africa helped brea k that faith and under the harsh realities of the 1980s confidence in authoritarian regimes eroded. Nevertheless, structural adjustment policie s had the unforeseen c onsequence of altering the relationship of state and society. Economic policy now was made in Washington and the governments role was reduced to carrying it out. This shift in policymaking represented a shift in the balance of power in economic sphere. Under authoritarianism, this removal of policymaking from the internal state function was less of a problem than it would be for a democracy. As mentioned, it was believed that an authoritarian government could muster the will to carry out the policies and withstand any popular unrest. In the past, rewards and repression were the tools to subdue unrest a nd it was assumed they would continue to be effective. For the IFIs the end justified the m eans and the most important end was for a country to continue paying back its in ternational debt obli gations. However, this confidence was misplaced as the economic crisis only worsened throughout the 1980s. By the time the World Bank concluded Africas crisis wa s a crisis in governance the pr ocesses initiated by structural adjustment would resonate very different ly in a democratic political realm. 18 Huntington constructed a thesis for countries undergoing rapid social-political change. One of the earliest transition scholars, his work focused on the need for a stro ng authoritarian government that would not be afraid to control the rapid mobilization of new groups into politics where political institutions lagged behind economic and social change. See Huntingtons Political Order in Changing Societies, (New Haven: Yale University Press 1968).


60 As the third wave of democracy began to reced e in Africa, frustration joined with despair as Africa became a continent increasingly de scribed as one of missed opportunities and pessimism (Chege, 1997). Even as the lost decade of the 1980s became history and 1990s ushered in the optimism of democracy, a palp able sense of gloom once again gripped the continent within a few years. In light of th e IMFs gloomy assessment of Africa in 1994, some scholars claimed that since the ma jority of African states will not obtain even a semblance of economic take-off, with or without democracy, at least in the foreseeable future, a roll-back of democratic gains if any, is in the cards (Decalo, 1995: 103). Minus an infusion of economic aid and a real commitment over the long term by the international community, the consolidation of Africas nascent democracies was in peri l (Decalo, 1995). Reasons for such pessimism ranged from cultural and the pervasiveness of clientalism to the structuralist and Africas dependent economies to the unusually high levels of rent seeking in the economy (Mkandawire, 2001). Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s a new literature emerged that suggested that Africas trajectory was inhospitable for the materi alization of developmental states. Following Bates line of inquiry, the analyses of Afro-pessimists focused on the highly detrimental results when political logic trumped economic logic (Chabal, 1994; Bratton & van der Wahl, 1997). The call was growing for a new paradigm for Afri cas development and new, and in some cases very radical approaches. The tenor of the literat ure also affected even the optimistic who had to switch to a smaller glass in orde r to see it as still half full. The futility of African governments to impr ove the economic life of its citizens finally found a concept to carry forward. The IFIs pr omoted good governance to explain the failure of SAPs in the 1980s (World Bank, 1989; Santiso, 2001). In step with th e portrayal of African


61 governments as corrupt, neopatrimonial and re nt-seeking, (Bratton & van der Wahl, 1997) it followed that SAPs failure to transform economies was seen in large part because of the nature of African states. As the World Bank pushed for good governance it became clear that in the dismal context of African politics and the role of the state, good governance meant erecting a neoliberal state subservient to the IFIs, able to effectively implement sound policies and to protect the interests of forei gn investors (Mentan, 2007: 152). Critics of the IFIs agenda, nonetheless accurately point out th at the IFIs favor market-led strategies and are opposed to state-led development strategies targeting th e role of the African State in economic and social development (Abrahmasen, 2000; Ba rratt-Brown, 1997). On ce again, terms like predatory, corrupt, rent-seeking and waste ful are used extensively in describing the nature of the African state, which in turn adds weight to their argument that the African state is responsible for failing economies (Abrahmasen, 2000). Portrayed as an obstacle to growth and development for its mismanagement of the public s ector, the IFIs had the basis for calling for the dismantling of the public sector and introducing privatization. With little faith in the capability of the African state, the IFIs and their economic liberalization agenda ne vertheless missed the crucial juncture that democratization offered. Instead of adopting more instruments that coul d have strengthened transitioning democracies, economic structural reform created difficulties for new democratic governments in low-income countries in two profound but related ways. First, SAPs ha ve significant implications for domestic agricultural producti on, investment flows, changi ng agricultura l comparative advantage, as well as trade and food security, both on a national and regional basis. Policies technically designed to rescue an economy from further erosion are also painful for the masses


62 and unpopular to many groups in society (Green, 1998; Gladwin, 1992; Dreh er, 2006; Cornia & Court, 2001; Due & Gladwin, 1991). In this manne r, the policies took on a political dimension as well as an economic one. Since the pain is not evenly distributed across society, the government loses support from affected constituencies, some potentially able to mount a challenge to the regime. The second difficulty arises from the fact that being externally driven policy, SAPs are cordoned off from domestic politics. This es pecially thorny dilemma potentially threatens the transition process on several related fronts. Sin ce democracy promises to establish a new social contract, it is vital that political leaders ha ve the space to respond to peoples demands. The strength of the social contract depends on it be ing negotiated between vari ous interest groups and policymakers. Another problem lies in rem oving economic policy from public debate and negotiation not only weakens the co ntract but also as a result creates fragile democratic institutions. When the economic sphere is inaccessible to politic al contest and popular participation, policymaking becomes policy ad ministration from the top. Essentially, as Abrahamsen argues, exclusionary democracy results as governments, beholden more to the IFIs and donors, are unable to incorporate the majority of th e population and their demands in any meaningful way (Abrahamsen, 2000: 113). Isolating public affair s from popular control marginalizes democratic instruments of change, weakens representative institutions and threatens the task of building state capacity. The upshot is that the crisis of legitimacy one of the most serious challenges facing the African states since independence perpetuates (Chabal, 1994). By remaining outside the public sphere, SAPs not only weaken the social contract and create frag ile democratic institutions but significantly increases the crisis of state legitimacy.


63 Malawi as a Case Study Malawi represents a goo d case study for an em pirical investigation into the relationship between structural adjustment and consolida tion. Malawi was alrea dy undergoing structural adjustment when political liberalization occurr ed setting the context within which the two processes would unfold. Additionally, Malawis surprisingly and unexpected peaceful political transition from an especially heavy-handed au thoritarian regime mitigate any resistance to democratization that often accompanies violent responses from supporters of the previous regime. Other favorable factors include Malawi being a very poor country where eighty percent of the population engages in agriculture, the major ity of it subsistence ba sed. In addition, there is no tradition of democracy a nd therefore no institutionalized de mocratic practices. Finally, compared to the majority of African states, Banda s one-party state penetr ated Malawian society down to the village; th e MCP was everywhere. Beyond that, Malawi presents other intere sting characteristics. For one, the impoverishment of society under Bandas auth oritarian regime suggests that Malawis democracy is fragile. Unlike the scenario de scribed by Przeworski and Limongi (1997) who found that dictatorships will demo cratize under the stimulus of economic development and that economic development predicts both transitions to democracy and the stability of democratic regimes, Malawis experience is far different. However, observing, [There] are no grounds to believe that economic development breed democracies (ibid: 167) cau tions anyone, including myself, to be duly diligent in linking democr acy to development wit hout considering other influential factors. Equally sobering is thei r claim that the higher frequency of democracy among high-income countries is fully explained by the fact that once es tablished, democracies are likely to die in poor countri es and certain to survive in w ealthy ones (ibid: 167). This finding echoes an earlier work where Pzreworski and Limongi (1993) fo und that wealth and


64 democracy go together and demo cracies in countries already developed are more likely to survive. In line with that thinking and reaching back to Lipsets (1959) premise, Diamond, Linz and Lipset (1995) state that democratic conso lidation is more likely to take place within favorable social structures. A ccording to Diamond, et.al (1995), structural factors are important for the likelihood of democrac y, but do not make democracy inevitable nor impossible (Diamond, 1995:52). Although democracy is more likely to occur and survive where poverty and inequality are limited and edu cation and income levels high (ibid: 53) other factors such as commitment by political participants to de mocratic institutions cannot be overlooked. For new democracies, consolidation is a co mplex undertaking requiri ng more than just the right conditions and leaders committed to demo cracy. In order to achieve consolidation, new democracies must build the states capacity to carry out popular generated policies. If institutions matter (and they do) then effort s should be undertaken wi th that goal in mind. The role of the state is crucial in consolidating democracy and what that role is and how well it is carried out will have much to say about the de gree of state legitimacy and the health of democracy in Africa. Malawis democracy is fragile and consolidatio n is still some distance off. As argued in this study, restricting the government from adopting and implementing policies that are particularly desirable for improvi ng the lives of rural people has essentially made the prospects for consolidation much more difficult. In orde r to understand how restricting government policy options make democratic consolidation in Malawi as well as in other new democracies similar to Malawi, very difficult, it is important that a definition of consolidation also not be limited. It is not an easy task because conceptually, consolidati on is visually seen as the end of a continuum


65 with authoritarian rule as the beginning point. Even if consolidation is the end of the democratization process, we ca nnot appreciate the difficulty poor countries have in arriving at that point. Perhaps from our own vantage point, having lived with our own consolidated democracy for so long, we might mistakenly think that consolidation is more related to a time component. In this sense, some scholars marked the end of transitioning to democracy with the first or foundational election as long as it was free, fair and competitive (Linz & Stapan, 1996; Bratton & van der Wahl, 1997). Others within this strand of the literature emphasize that more than just free, fair and competitive elections are required for consolid ation. Huntington (1991), for example, argues that a two turnover test where in the course of two elections, the government changes hands and the opposition is allowed to govern without be ing challenged by the military or the defeated party. Lindberg argues quite c onvincingly that repetitive elections have an intrinsic value that also contribute to towards consolidation in that much like iterative game theory, elections teach democratic behaviors (Lindberg, 200 6a). Elections serve a deeper purpose in that they not only channel regime change into a peaceful method, but they create a climate where democratic behaviors are learned and accepted as the only method of political change (Lindberg, 2006b). Still, underlying much of the literature on consol idation is this relationship with time that understandably comes out of this co nceptualization of the linear continuum. Time is a useful and even an important tool for determining consolid ation but it is not suffici ent. There are other factors equally important than just specific even ts occurring over time. For there to be any confidence that democracy will endure, consolidation needs to be seen as a multi-faceted process that includes three areas of development: institu tional, changes in behaviors and attitudes of officials and constituents, and government responsiv eness. Moreover, all three need to develop


66 in conjunction with each other. It is hard to see how consolidation could occur otherwise particularly in a country like Ma lawi where for thirty years the aut horitarian regime had tight control on society. Fortunately, institutional development in Ma lawi appears to be progressing. For one, there is little chance th at the government will be changed by a coup or any other type of force. The recent attempt by Muluzi to amend the Const itution so he could seek a third term is both informative and encouraging for consolidation. Strong protests and demonstrations as well as the judiciary ruling that such a maneuver was unconstitutional ended Muluzis grab for power and threat to return Malawi to a de facto Life President. Although his ploy was not overtly forceful, it nevertheless was deemed extra-consti tutional by the judiciary and a majority in the Parliament. Another good sign is at the street level, wh ere overall citizen att itudes in Malawi are favoring democracy (Erdman, Patel & Schweitz er, 2004; Meinhardt & Patel, 2003; Bratton, Mattes & Gyimah-Boadi, 2005) although under the surface there are troubling regional differences (International IDEA, 2002). Attitudes of some gove rnment officials may be lagging behind as evidenced by Muluzis attempt at changing the Constitution, but it is an extremely noteworthy event and theref ore very encouraging for consolida tion that most members of society including the government, ag reed that specific laws, procedures and institutions have to be used to govern society (Linz & Stepan, 1996). Surveys show that a la rge majority of Malawians see democracy as the proper form of governance fo r their society and few wish to return to authoritarianism (Erdman, et al. 2004, Bratton et al. 2005). Government responsiveness is struggling, th rowing into question whether consolidation can be achieved. Malawis young democracy is being overwhelmed by socio-economic


67 problems and the institutional capacity to address them is simply not there. The government is unable to respond to the basic need s and concerns of the citizenry mainly due to the restrictions placed on the state by the IFIs. Thus, without go vernment capacity to re spond the third area of development towards consolidation is instead opening up the political realm for deeper and pervasive clientalism. To make the point, it is necessary to view th e role of the state in tandem with the faith people have in democracy. The state is for all pr actical purposes still the main source to wealth, power and status (Meinhardt & Pa tel, 2003). Political elites are therefore very much aware of the costs to losing power. There is an incentive for political elites, then, to respond to the shrinking of the state enshrined in orthodoxy and required of the IFIs by positioning themselves as the ones who can do something about rural poverty. Under the ta rpaulin of democracy, political parties are able to mobilize their consti tuents to vote but they do so with gifts and money while echoing the same promises of the past.19 With the state constrained in its responses to socioeconomic concerns, political allegian ce is reduced raising th e political returns of neopatrimonial over developmental leadership (E nglebert, 2000: 167). C onsequently, elections become less about choice over policy and more about who will show up with gifts. As a result, constraining government policy making tests the faith in democracy. Is it turning the promise of democracy into as an empty one? If so, what are the implications for Malawis democracy? 19 In countless interviews, respondents told me that they never saw their MP until election time when he would show up in party vehicles loaded with maize and sometimes fer tilizer as well as distribute small sums of cash promising that his election will mean more food, more fertilizer, and mo re development. President Muluzi was also very good at this practice of politics, always handing his own money out to people, especially women who would dance for him, just as they did for Kamuzu. When asked if they inte nded to vote for their MP, for the most part the responses mostly clustered around maybe and yes. The reason wa s not so astonishing: their MP brings them food and money even if it only every five years which is better than nothing. As far as the promises go, most respondents did not believe them. There is probably much more to this but it highlights the e fficacy of clientalism in the absence of government responsiveness.


68 One other distinction is wort h noting and that is between political attitudes and my research, which is based on this idea of materi alist democracy. Attitudes towards democracy are not the same as those attitudes concerning what is expected from democracy. People can decide that a democratic form of government is best for them and democratic institutions such as elections, multiple parties, independent press, an d judiciary are preferable over any alternative form of governance. They can al so be disappointed. It is also true that at some point, after multiple failures by the government, peoples faith in democracy wanes to the extent that rather than support a return to authoritarianism, they instead make a different choice and not participate or exit from political life as Hirschman (1970) suggests. For these reasons, the emphasis on material democracy is especially important in Malawis case simply because the country is so poor. In developed countries with consolidated democracy, the importance of the socio-economic fact or is much less. However, in Malawi, they have considerable weight. Even as poverty is pervasive in both urban and rural areas, the fact that Malawi is heavily dependent on agriculture for development requires this study to shift to the rural area. One very troubling fact about Malawis agricu ltural sector is that it cannot guarantee food security and that as the main sector of economic activity, it is disturbing to note that agriculture has failed to meet even basic f ood security needs for many years. Close to three-fifths of Malawians are vulnerable to hunger fo r at least part of the year. As such, the goal of sustainable economic development is a very distant dream. The estimated number of people employed in agriculture is around 87% and c ontributing to approximately 40% of the GDP (Harrigan, 2001; Wobst, Lofgren, Tchale & Morrison, 2004). Since the early 1980s over all economic performance has declined with negative per-capital growth even with th e stabilization programs


69 in place that were suppose to accelerate agricultu ral production. All recen t indications are that poverty is greater now than it was in th e early 1980s (NSO/NEC, 2000; UNDP, 2002). Indicators of poverty abound. For example, a significant proportion (3 8%) of agricultural households have land holdings of less than one hectare while another 22% own between one and five hectares of land (Wobst et al ., 2004). Hunger and food insecurity has other effect s on people. Malnutrition weakens people, especially children, while increasing vulnerability to sickness and disease. Economic policies were supposed to improve incomes for rural pr oducers, which in turn would show a positive trend in such indicators as child physical development. Th e evidence suggests this has not occurred. As a result, 48% of children under five suffer from stunt ed growth with 22% seriously stunted. Importantly, these pe rcentages are virtually unchanged since 1992 and 2000 when the last surveys were undertaken (N SO 2005) indicating that economic liberalization and structural adjustment has not improved the lives of most Malawians. There are other signs of deterioration. In recent years, life expectancy has declined considerably to 46 years accordi ng to the UNDP (see Table 2-2). Agriculture as a percent of GDP has been increasing since the 1990s due to the combined affects of a stagnating industrial sector and the retrenchment of employees in the public service sector (Menon, 2007; Oygard, 2005). More people relying on the ag ricultural sector for survival is significant as it indicates policies for economic development are not working. Additionally, this trend reveals another sad dilemma and that is there are fe wer and fewer opportunities outside of agriculture particularly for any newly educated youth (Oygard, 2005). It is clear that Mala wis development challenges are very great.


70 Clearly, Malawis poverty is a function of a poorly performing economy that is relying far too heavily on agriculture without the nece ssary supportive policies. Poverty is deep, debilitating, and increasing. W ith so many people dependent on agriculture, improving that sector represents the most urgent challenge facing the government. The government of Malawi recognized the urgency of the situation back in 1994. With the adoption of the Poverty Alleviation Program, the government made a commitment to changing the thrust of economic and social policies toward poverty reduction. Needing information to better monitor socioeconomic c ondition of the population as well as analyze the effectiveness of policies, the government introduced a Poverty Monitoring System (PMS). In 1997 the Malawi Integrated Household Survey (I HS), was conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) within the PMS. The government now had a data set of the country providing a baseline of key indicators from which it would be possible to view future trends in poverty. Table 2-2: Ranking of Malawi s human development index 2005 HDI value Life expectancy at birth (years) Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) Combined education gross enrolment ratio (%) GDP per capita (PPP US$) 1. Iceland (0.968) 1. Japan (82.3) 1. Georgia (100.0) 1. Australia (113.0) 1. Luxembourg (60,228) 162. Angola (0.446) 164. Cte d'Ivoire (47.4) 111. Uganda (66.8) 122. India (63.8) 172. DR Congo (714) 163. Benin (0.437) 165. Nigeria (46.5) 112. Rwanda (64.9) 123. Vanuatu (63.4) 173. Burundi (699) 164. Malawi (0.437) 166. Malawi (46.3) 113. Malawi (64.1) 124. Malawi (63.1) 174. Malawi (667) 165. Zambia (0.434) 167. Guinea-Bissau (45.8) 114. India (61.0) 125. Uganda (63.0) () 166.Cte d'Ivoire (0.432) 168. DR Congo (45.8) 115. Sudan (60.9) 126.Sri Lanka (62.7) () 177.Sierra Leone (0.336) 177. Zambia (40.5) 139.Burkina Faso (23.6) 172. Niger (22.7) ()Source: UNDP (2006) http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/c ou ntry_fact_sheets/cty_fs_MWI.html


71 The data offered no surprises but simply unde rscored the depth and breadth of poverty in the country. Other intern ational organizations provide supporting statistics. One particularly helpful report is the UNDPs Human Devel opment Index (HDI). The HDI provides a measurement of the average progress of a country along three dimensions of human development: life expectancy, adult literacy a nd education enrollment and standard of living (UNDP, 2006). The most recent report shows Malawi has an HDI of 0.437, ranking the country 164th out of 177 countries that the UNDP has data. As Table 2-2 shows, compared to a sample of other countries, Malawi falls in the bottom third across all categories. The Human Poverty Index for developing countri es (HPI-1) is another useful measure as it indicates the proportion of people below a thre shold level in the same dimensions of human development as the human development index liv ing a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living. Th e HPI-1 provides a multi-di mensional alternative to the $1 a day (PPP US$) poverty measure (UNDP 2006). In this way, the HPI-1 highlights areas such as severe deprivation in health by the percentage of people who will die before 40 years of age (ibid). In addition, adult literacy rates education, it me asures adult illiteracy rate and a decent standard of living is measured by aver age percentage of people who do not have access to an clean drinking water source and th e proportion of childre n under age 5 who are underweight for their age (ibid.). Table 2-3 shows the values for these indicators for Malawi and compares them to other countries. When all the indicators of human poverty are ca lculated together, out of 108 developing countries where the index has been calculated, Malawi ranks 79th with a value of 36.7 (UNDP, 2005).


72 Table 2-3: Ranking of Mala wi with selected indicators of human poverty (2004) Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) Probability of not surviving past age 40 (%) Adult illiteracy rate (% ages 15 and older) People without access to an improved water source (%) Children underweight for age (% ages 0-5) 1. Chad (56.9) 1. Zimbabwe (57.4) 1. Burkina Faso (76.4) 1. Ethiopia (78) 1. Nepal (48) 28. Burundi (37.6) 8. Mozambique (45.0) 25. Sudan (39.1) 40. Turkmenistan (28) 41. Uganda (23) 29. Nigeria (37.3) 9. Rwanda (44.6) 26. India (39.0) 41. Djibouti (27) 42. Tanzania (22) 30. Malawi (36.7) 10. Malawi (44.4) 27. Malawi (35.9) 42. Malawi (27) 43. Malawi (22) 31. Rwanda (36.5) 11. Botswana (44.0) 28. Rwanda (35.1) 43. Rwanda (26) 44. Ghana (22) 32. Pakistan (36.2) 12. DR Congo (41.1) 29. Uganda (33.2) 44. Bangladesh (26) 45. Solomon Isles (21) 108. Barbados (3.0) 173. Iceland (1.4) 164. Estonia (0.2) 125. Hungary (1) 134. Chile (1) Source: UNDP (2006) http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_M WI.html Conclusion For Malawi, dem ocratic consolidation is a questionable outcome. Although people approve of democracy on one level, the socio-econo mic context within which it has to occur is far from hospitable. Socio-economic indicators place Malawi at the bottom of the bottom fifth of countries in the world. Moreover, poverty ca n place heavy demands on any new democracy but on poor ones, it increases their frag ility. If Lipset (1959) is right then Malawis consolidation will be postponed for quite some time. At the same time, SAPs are removing many policies that could help improve Malawis socio-economic status and in the process, improve the chance or consolida tion. In this respect, some policies required by the IFIs, such as c oncerning reinstating fertilizer subsidies, will constrain government responsiveness that can negatively affect peoples perception and faith in the transformative power of democracy.


73 Before seeing how their faith in democracy is affected, a brief review of structural adjustment in general will be helpful. There is little debate that subSaharan African countries were in a crisis by the late seventies and early eighties. Something had to be done before countries simply collapsed in on themselves. A lthough there always will be robust debates about particular policies and how they were applied to countries in Africa, what is of paramount interest for this study is the context established by SAPs. The next chapter concerns the reasons and logic behind structural adjust ment, first in sub-Saharan Africa and then in Malawi and more importantly for this study, the context in whic h democratic consolidation has to occur.


74 CHAPTER 3 SETTING THE CONTEXT: MALAWIS STRU CTURAL ADJUSTMENT EXPERI ENCE But most academic critics believe IMF conditionality has been ineffective in Africa (and elsewhere) and World Bank conditionality involves imposition of policies that are technically uncertain at best and wrong-headed or ideological at worst Something has gone awry here. Conditional lending has beco me so extensive in Africa that the donor community has become excessively intrusiv e in African policy making. Eliot Berg quoted in Helleiner 1986:97 The overall economic performance of the Malawi economy has been very weak in recent years. The macroeconomic environment has been characterized by relatively low or negative GDP growth rates, high inflation a nd interest rates and the volatile exchange rate. Ministry of Economic Planning and De velopment, Government of Malawi, June 2003 For a majority of countries in sub-Saharan Af rica, the year 1979 marked the beginning of a decade of ever-worsening economic difficulties and ushered in what would be appropriately called the Lost Decade of the 1980s.20 Arguably, no region of the world suffered more than SSA. Without exaggeration, the regions econo mic collapse of the 1980s was devastating turning the crisis into tragedy with terrible c onsequences not only for th e welfare of its people but also for their status in the world at large (Arrighi, 2002). In response to the crisis, the IMF, World Bank and international donors offered a package of economic reforms under what is co mmonly called structural adjustment.21 Underlying structural adjustment is the neoliberal developm ent strategies that place a priority on opening up economies to global market forces and requiring limited government interventions in managing 20 For much of sub-Saharan Africa, the term Lost decade is somewhat misleading, as it tends to confine our thinking to just the 1980s after which we might presume that conditions were improving. On a global scale, it has. According to UNDP Human Development Report (2005) on average, the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day declined 6% from nearly 27 percent to about 21 percent between 1990 and 2000, which translates to about 120 million people. However, most of the improvement occurred in South East Asia and the Pacific. At the other end of the spectrum -Sub-Saharan Africa had almost 100 million more people living on less than a dollar a day in 2001 than in 1990. (See Human Development Report (UNDP) 2005. 21 Technically speaking, the IMF provides monetary assistance through stabilization programs in the form of short term financing aiming to reduce demand and restore equilibri um. Structural adjustment, more associated with the World Bank, in theory at least, aims to remove ineffici encies in the market and promote efficencies in resource allocation and investment.


75 the economy. Together, they are designed to limit development strategies states may wish to pursue. Although the IFIs believe the state must be constrained if societies are to develop, to some observers, placing this sort of limitation on the state erodes its sovereignty and autonomy with serious consequences (Campbell, 2001; Ohmae, 1995). Armed with this perspective, structural adjustment arrived in Africa in 1979 when Senegal signed the first loan with the World Bank. Within a matter of a few years, most states in Sub-Saharan Africa were under stabil ization loans and structural ad justment policies. However, in the 1970s, despite the disadvant age of being land-locked, Malawi was considered one of the more economically successful c ountries in sub-Saharan Africa and few would have thought that her future would not continue to be so (H arrigan, 2001; Chilowa, 1998; Acharya, 1981). Malawis economy, however, was not built on a strong foundation and by the mid-1970s, the economy started to crumble (Chilowa, 1998). In 1981, Malawi signed on to its first structural adjustment program. This chapter reviews how the IFIs have come to exercise such power in Africa in general and Malawi in particular. It is divided into thr ee sections. The first sect ion gives a brief general overview of structural adjustment programs, their theoretical underpinning s and rationale and the reasons for their adoption in sub-Saharan African economies. As such, it describes the context in which African countries such as Malawi have to function. The second examines the involvement of the IFIs in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through the implementation of stabilization and structural adjustment programs.22 It is not an exhaustive review of all the policies nor all the literature and commentary on the IFIs programs and policies as that is too enormous an undertaking. 22 Lending from the World Bank and the IMF for stabilization and structural adjustment purposes is done through a number of different lending instruments. They can be found in the IMF and World Bank annual reports.


76 The third section is a deeper examination of Malawis experience with structural adjustment and stabilization first focusing on the effects macro-economic adjustment had on Malawis agricultural sector and rural society and then looks at the fertilizer subsidy removal program. Structural Adjustment: An Overview The term structural adjustment entered the development discourse fr om the ideology of Margaret Thatcher in the late 1970 s who then persuaded Ronald Reagan to join with her in what turned out to be the dominant development ideology of the 1980s to present. Originally known as Thatcherism and Reaganomics policies applied in Great Brit ain and the US it soon expanded into polices that from the very start engendered considerable a nd heated debate that have earned praise from some quarters (See N oorbakhsk & Paloni, 2001) and sharp criticisms from others.23. One side criticized the programs and polic ies in the belief th at they would hurt the poor, mainly through reductions in public expe nditures on health, educ ation and other social services from which the poor benefited (see, fo r example, Cornia, Joll y, & Stewart, 1987). Others looked at the effects of structural ad justment programs, which tends to refute these speculations, although there remain serious me thodological problems (see e.g., Killick, 1996, Sahn, 1996). Structural adjustment broadly conceived entails four basic canons: a) liberalize trade and finance (opening of markets to fo reign investment); b) macroeconom ic stability (end inflation) c) privatization d) reduce governme nt intervention in economy. On e of the more controversial 23 The critical literature on SAPs in Sub-Saharan Africa is vast and beyond the scope and purpose of this dissertation. It is worth noting that even the World Bank at the beginning of the 21st century began to question, if not the need for structural adjustme nt, the methods of implementing programs as well as the one-size-fits-all approach. This recognition th at structural reforms have not accomplished what they were intended to do is quite remarkable considering that the World Bank as recently as 1994 was claiming success even as its own data made such claims dubious. For example, see Schatz, 1994.


77 aspects of structural adjustment has to do with its view of the st ate. This perspective calls for withdrawal of the state from the economy thr ough privatization and deregulation, which include not only trade liberalization, but also deregulation of industry a nd privatization of state-owned industries and services. Such conditions prevent governments from managing basic services such as health, education, or water. In many cases, countries come to the IFIs for help particularly during times when imports exceed exports by such an amount that wide trad e imbalances result. Countries with these imbalances typically go to the IMF for a loan to cover the shortfall. In order to receive the loan countries must agree to implement IMF conditi ons called stabilization measures. Stabilization measures provide short-term relief so a country can temporarily adjust its balance of payments and have access to credit markets. However, before a country can receive an IMF stabilization loan, it must agree to adopt pol icies that are often painful for society and therefore politically painful as well. Stabilization measures and stru ctural adjustment program s, taken together, are designed to make an economy mo re productive, more flexible, a nd more dynamic. Essentially, the domestic policy environment has to change so that policies foster economic liberalization. The link between stabilization and structural adjustment is clear. 24 Accepting these measures entails changing the structure of pr oduction to restore equilibrium to the balance of payments. In eff ect, the economy has to adjust to compete in the global economy and the country agrees to make the necessary changes in order to accomplish this feat. Since the beginning of the 1980s stab ilization and adjustment programs have focused 24 The IMF is not the sole lending institution but its influence pervades the entire global financial system. Truly, there are no other choices for a country strapped for cash. For example, as a precondition to entering into World Bank structural adjustment programs, a country first must agree to IMF supported stabilization measures. Moreover, bilateral donors and commercial banks insist that agreements be reached with the Bretton Woods institutions before they support initiatives concerning bala nce of payments and development financing. Desperate for cash and financing to avoid economic collapse, adoption of IMF measures is really the only game in town.


78 on a number of immediate objectives necessary for a return to economic growth and stability. It is noteworthy that even as there is variation in actual country programs, for the most part they are remarkably similar (See Tarp 1993; Killick, 1984; Mosley & Toye, 1988). All were designed to remove the alleged cause of the crisis in the first place, government. It was assumed that once the government "got out of the way" private markets would produce efficient allocations and growth fueling economic development. Growth and stability would return the country from negative to positive balance of payments releasing more capital for investment. For a developing country to get there, it needs to move from a traditional economy to a modern economy where production of primary products gives way to production of manufactured products or what economists call structural tr ansformation (OBrien, 1991). Economists at the IFIs believed enacting policies that achieve these goals are necessary to achieve even higher objectives such as attaining positive per capita growth, avoiding further impoverishment of the poor while evading st eep reduction of personal consumption and curtailment of basic services wh ich if occurred could unravel the very fabric of society (Tarp, 1993). Specific policies designed to achieve these higher goals include controlling the money supply, currency devaluation to adjust exchange rates, changing fiscal policy in order to reduce public expenditures, deregulation, liberalizing trade, rescheduling debt and reforming and strengthening institutions to better implement public investments as well as successfully carry out privatization (ECA, 1989; OBrien, 1991). Therefore, the main objective of structural ad justment is to return an economy back to growth with policies that addre ss underlying weaknesses. Initially, the meas ures are considered painful particularly for the poor who endure the most due to economic change. For example, devaluation of the currency is to make imports expensive while making exports cheaper on the


79 world market. A country saves more so it can inve st in improving its export sector. However, a downside of devaluation is it usually causes in flation, which clearly harms the poor more. Nevertheless, by the time the 1970s was ending, most of sub-Sa haran Africas economies were in serious trouble and needed immediate help. Historical review of structural adjustment programs in Africa: With independence in the 1960s, it was hoped that the state would take a leading role in economic development. Based on Western ex periences, it seemed obvious at that time that an active state with a central development pla n, supported by foreign aid and en acting interventionist economic policies could break the back of poverty and underdevelopment with in a relatively short period. Indeed, by the end of the 1960s, many African countries, including Malawi, produced very healthy growth statistics. From the outside, it appeared that state led development was working. That perception did not last long. Indications of more serious challenges began to emerge in the late 1960s as one democratic regi me after another either were felled by military coups or pushed aside by one-party authoritaria n states (Ake, 1996; Chab al, 1994). The struggle for power became everything and everything else including developmen t was marginalized (Ake, 1996: 7). By the early 1980s, beliefs in the state led development paradigm were decidedly over optimistic. Other than a few exceptions, most SSA countries were for seeing sharp and alarming economic decline. It became cl ear that state intervention was not leading to development; instead, state interventions crea ted harmful domestic economic policies designed primarily to maintain political power and not to foster development (Bates, 1981). State led development was now seen as the primary reas on for underdevelopment and the source of the crisis in SSA.25 The perception of the state had changed 180 degrees. 25 See Killick (1986) and Toye (1987) for an overview of the changes in perceptions over the last twenty-five years.


80 Oil Shocks and the Foundation fo r the World Economic Order Not all the misery was endogenously created. Other major external events added to the ensuing misery. A sharp recession in the US and mu ch of the rest of the industrialized world in the early 1980s reduced demand for African commodities causing a decline in prices. At the same time, domestic monetary and fiscal policies in the US -a severe tightening in the money supply, higher interest rates, ta x cuts and practically unhindered freedom of action for capitalist activity made the US an attractive place pregna nt with investment opportunities for OPEC countries awash in petrodollars (McMichael, 1996). Under Reagan, the US went from being the major source of world liquidity and of direct investment in the 1950s and 1960s, to becoming the worlds main debtor nation and by far the larg est recipient of foreign capital (Arrighi, 2002; McMichael, 1996).26 The world was undergoing rapid financia l realignment. Money flows that once were headed to the South now reversed dire ction flowing to the North. The South became a net exporter of cash.27 The world stage was now set for a prolonged period of decline and immiseration for many Africans. However, if there were a catalyst for al th ese events, both foreign and domestic, it was the oil shocks of the 1970s. When OPEC raised the price of oil by 300% the developing worlds 26 The severity of this reversal of fortunes for the developing world can be better understood when examining the change in the current account of the US balance of payments, which caused a reversal of the flow of global investment capital: instead of going to developing countries, it went to the US to fund the deficits. 27 In all fairness, the literature has treated these external events almost as if they were marginal factors for the ensuing economic crisis in Africa wh en compared to internal factors su ch as poor governance, weak state institutions and internal corruption particularly the latter. More attention should be paid to the rapid and deleterious effects the global economic realignment that took place in the early 1980s and continues to have on the people of SSA. The question of why the poor pe rformance of adjusting stat es in Africa after twenty years may be less perplexing since the Third World in general and SSA in particular had to adjust to the realities of a new global economy. In the new global economic order the US aggr essively competes for capita l worldwide to finance a growing trade and current account deficit in its own balance of payments. It is these policies that brought about a sharp increase in real interest rates wo rldwideand, importantly, brought about a major reversal in the direction of global capital flows. In such an e nvironment, even if African governments created the policy environment for structural transformation to take place there probably would not be the amount of private capital available for the degree and scope of investment necessary to ensure positive, sustainable growth.


81 economies started to unravel. This unprecedente d price increase threw the developed worlds economies into a sharp recession but it ensured the precipitous decline of already fragile economies. In other words, what turned out to be a serious shock for the developed world was a convulsion in the developing worl d. The steep rise in energy costs and imports negatively affected the terms of trade for African countri es. Huge trade imbalances appeared almost overnight and most of the developing countries found they could not pay their bills. With exports not sufficient to cover the costs of imports, countries found themselves in a cash bind unable to pay for even basic necessities. Combin ed with poor internal economic policies, these external events overwhelmed African economies and sent them reeling. As the economic crisis deepened, it became cl ear to SSA countries that they could not sustain their economic and financial imbalances. A country importing more than it is exporting will create a deficit current account and an imbalance of payments. Simply put more money goes out of the country to pay the cost of impor ts than is earned through exports. To restore balance, the economy needs to ad just to the extent that the country exports more than it imports thus earning a surplus. By 1980, countri es in Africa were looking at a future much different from the one they envisi oned at the time of independence. In 1981, with the release of the Berg Report, Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action the nature of the debate was radically changed (Ravenhill, 1988). SSAs crisis sprung from deficiencies in na tional policy-making and weaknesses in economic structure. The significance of this document cannot be underestimated because, as Ravenhill (1988) argues, the 'Berg Report' not only removed th e Lagos Plan of Action from the development agenda, but it had influenced much of the academic work ever since. The predominant emphasis


82 now turned towards the internal characteristics of African states and the focus changed to policy analysis.28 Yet the Berg Report provides only a par tial although important explanation of the crisis. There is no argument that badly conceived internal policie s placed African economies at the edge of the pr ecipice and it might have taken mu ch less a shove than that applied by OPECs price increase to send th em over the edge. However, a more balanced view recognizes that there wa s more than one single cause for the ground to collapse under the economies. A greater awar eness of the geographical ci rcumstances and structures African countries inherited since imperiali sm is necessary to understand how the convergence of a number of the recent events were able to set the economic decline into motion. The combination of history and geography set the stage just waiting for calamitys visitation. That came in the earl y 1980s when severe droughts dealt a terrible blow to countries that were h eavily dependent on ag ricultural production. As if this was not enough, a second blow was landed wh en a drastic change in world-economic circumstances caused a sharp increase in global interest rates. Many countries with large debts saw their balance of paymen ts tumble deeply into the red. With little choice, they were obliged to take out loans and pay more interest on the loans in order to purchase food. Neoliberalism and the New Ar chitecture of Development As we have seen, the 1980s meant an opport une time for a shift in development thinking regarding the state. There was a rapidly grow ing disillusionment with statist models of 28 In comparison, much less consideration was given to th e more radical dependency and Marxist approaches, which were dominant in the 1970s.


83 development. The belief that sates, supported by foreign aid, could lead societies out of poverty with a development plan now a ppeared grossly optimistic. Economists at the World Bank and the IMF were quick to prescribe SAPs and stabilization programs as necessary antidotes for past wrongheaded economic policies by African governments. Another major factor helped propel SSA towa rds the eventual adoption of structural adjustment policies. The arrival of strong cons ervative governments in th e United States and in Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s marks the moment when the global economy turned in a new direction. At that time, fi rst with Thatcher in Britain and then followed admiringly by Reagan in the United States, the emphasis on ma rket forces took on an added vigor. Both saw the intrusion of government in the economy as a shackle on the legs of development and human achievement. Government as Reagan expressed in his first inaugural address, is not the solutiongovernment is problem (Reagan, 1981). The concept, no matter how overly simplified, struck a chord. Less government meant sm aller states with the result that unfettered free markets would unleash the development potentia l of all. This, stressing competitive market forces as essential for development, neoliberalism became the ultra-dominant ideology of development economists in the IFIs as well as USAID. Like so many ideas that become ideologies, neoliberalism sparked the imagination of conservative think tanks and policymakers. The new orthodoxy held that given the opportunity to enter the free market unhindered by state regulation, economically rational people would prosper, and that prosperity would spread to the less fortunate. Free markets lead to development and development means decreasing pove rty. Under the assault of neoliberal free market capitalism, state led development was sent into full retreat. The economic salvation of


84 the poor could now be achieved. The crisis in sub-Saharan Africa would now be viewed by the IMF and the World Bank through a particularly strong ideological lens. The global economic context: At the same time, the ove rall global external context could hardly have been worse for SSA. Global te rms of trade suddenly a nd precipitously turned against primary commodities (agricultural and mi neral) with prices fa lling 40 percent compared to prices for manufactured produc ts from industrialized countries (Leonard & Straus, 2003). For countries that export primary commodities and experiencing balance of payment problems, a decline in commodity prices leaves very few options on the table. What this meant for those developing countries dependent on primary commodities fo r export was accelerated and increased exports to pay for the products they imported. A cycle of economic decline ensued as more commodities on the market meant an increase in supply dr iving prices even lower. Looking back, other factors should have alerted the IFIs to restrain with pushing SAPs on Africa. Specifically, external shocks created by the rapid changes in the global economy were ignored or worse, the IFIs were simply unw illing to consider them (van der Wahl, 2001; Sandbrook, 1993). A few deeply concerned voices warned that ignoring the significance of global economic events, both past and present, would negatively affect Africas chances for recovery (Gibbon, 1992; Sanbrook, 1993; Chazan & Rothchild, 1993). That notwithstanding, the argument basically came down to being between those on the one side who claimed that the state was the culp rit (internalists) and th e obvious solution was to minimize state involvement in the economy(Bates, 1981; Rothchild & Chazan 1988; Chazan, Harbeson, & Rothchild 1994; Callaghy & Ravenhill 1993). On the other side, scholars, as well as African governments in particular, argued that international economic volatility was the chief cause of the crisis and adversely affected prices for African commodities resulting in


85 deteriorating terms of trade (van der Wahl, 2001; Leonard & Strauss, 2003; Loxley & Sedden, 1994). For them, a better path for Africa to follow was through implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action, which called for a change in in ternational economic relations. Moreover, much concern about the effects of state withdrawal wa s also expressed because the neoliberal based arguments assumed the existence of a bourgeoisi e that would provide the impetus for economic development. Not many scholars knowledgeable of Africa would make that assumption, at least not a bourgeoisie that had attained the necessary size. For example, Nyangoro and Shaw (1998) claimed that state withdrawal would lead to economic disaster, even taking into consideration the current inefficiencies of most regimes simply because there is no national bourgeoisie to compensate for state withdraw al (Nyangoro & Shaw, 1998: 35). Unfortunately, the pendulum was too far over on the side of neoliberal orthodoxy. This dramatic shift in the development discourse augure d that the internalists would carry the day. They did and their solutions po licies anchored in neoliberal ec onomic theory were prescribed for SSA (Hutchfield, 1995). The global ec onomic context would have no influence on policymaking. In all fairness, over the years, a convergen ce of the two camps did take place, although limited to mainstream economists (Rodrik, 1996). As a result, van der Wahl says debates focus much less on policy differences and instead have come to focus on adjustment programs rather than on adjustment (van der Wahl, 2001: 10). In other words, most everyone agrees that internal factors led to the crisis; external f actors merely compounded it (Galdwin, 1991) and that African governments needed to adopt the goals advocated by the IMF and World Bank29 (World 29 For example, the World Bank agreed that Africas history and the way its economies were structured at independence imposed huge obstacles to economic development. That being the case, in a number of publications, the emphasis is placed on domestic policy weakness and fa ilures as the main factor s (World Bank 1981, 1986).


86 Bank, 1989; Sandbrook, 1993; Chabal & Daloz, 1999; Ayittey, 2005). Nevertheless, Leonard and Straus recently argued that the crisis has ne ver really ended. It persists because Africas underdevelopment is directly rela ted to the continents relationshi p with the international system a system that creates a dysfunctional set of incentives for development, whether economic or political (Leonard & Straus, 2003). The end result was that by the 1990s the IFIs, backed by the US and Britain, were urging with even greater fervency the adoption of policie s that would 'adjust' the economies of Africa to the existing distribution of wea lth and power in the global econo my, and the demands of unstable world markets.30 The point is to integrate even more the economies of deve loping countries into the global capitalist economy, which in effect means they will be fully exposed to its periodic fluctuations. Essentially then, the theory or thinking behind SAPs for de veloping countries could be described as testing economic Darwinism because it places the surviv al of these countries on the ability of capitalism on a global scale to m eet the needs of the peoples of the world. However, even before the IFIs new fervenc y, the swelling US deficit had a considerable destabilizing affect on world trade and financial flows (Arri ghi, 2002; Mkandawire & Soludo, 1999). Following enormous financial instability caused by the deva luation of the dollar and the explosion in lending in the 1970s, conditions only wo rsened in developing countries most closely tied in to the European and US economy. Debt swelled as not only African but also developing countries around the world were swept along by a lu rching global economy. For the next twenty years, a Great African Depression gripped the continent (Leonard et al. 2003). 30 At this time an alternative proposal set forth by a dvocates of the New Interna tional Economic Order was developed. Pointing to the fundamental disparity of global power, it called for the minority of wealthy capitalist to adjust their economies and patterns of global trade, investment, and production in a more just and fair configuration so the Third World would have some space to develop. No t surprisingly, it was never given a fair hearing and was subsequently pushed off the agenda of the IFIs.


87Effects of structural adjustment It is against this backgro und that African governments bega n the long and painful process of reorienting economic policie s by adopting IMF stabilizatio n and World Bank structural adjustment programs. The upshot was that within a decade, the Bretton Woods institutions had in fact acquired an unprecedented influence ove r policy-making in African countries (BarrattBrown, 1997). Starting in the 1980s, the IFIs implemented po licies designed to address immediate fiscal imbalances in the short run across most of Afri ca. Over time, the polic ies were designed to establish conditions leading to eco nomic development. In order to receive the loans, countries had to agree to certain conditions established by the IFIs. Those conditio ns, coming out of their mission as spelled out at their conception would ha ve a significant influence in determining the course of development in Afri ca and not without controversy. Implementing the policies constitutes a major part of the controversy surrounding the effects stabilization and structural adjustment policies are having on African societies. The controversy swirls around the IFIs involvement in the internal affair s of states. In this regards, there is no argument that the IFIs are much different today than a nyone could have ever imagined at their beginning. Today, they have ev olved into powerful international players with expanded agendas based essentially on free market capitalism. The tactics they employ, some argue, have taken them away from their original mission of deve lopment and instead transformed them into debt collectors for the devel oped world (Sachs, 2005; Stiglitz, 2000). It is a point to contemplate because successful adjusters are few and that record of the IFIs in sub-Saharan Africa exposes the gap be tween what the original mission was and has become (Schatz, 1994). A simple illustration be ars this out. In 1970, the face of poverty was Asian with more poor people living in South and East Asia. By 2000, the face of poverty


88 changed to African, with one third of the wo rlds poor people living th ere (UNDP, 2005). The UNDP projects that by 2015, Africa will account for the majority of poor people. As conditions worsened on the continent, calls for rethinking structural adjustment started as early as mid 1980s. Adedji noted that the exte rnal economic environment deteriorated in 1986 and 1987 to such an extent that Africa was, in fact a net transferer rather than a net recipient of resources (Adedeji, 1988: 53). According to th e International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, 1997) there were 18 million malnourished children in SSA in 1970. By 1997, the number increased to 32 million. Meanwhile, the global trend moved in the opposite direction: 203 million hungry children in 1970 down to 166 million in 1997. It seems appropriate then, even in retrospect, that the key question is wh ether structural adjustment policies could ever cause a reduction in the number of Malawians living in poverty. The importance of this question cannot be understated as it defi nes the context and e nvironment that tests the transition and consolidation of demo cratic governance. Structural Adjustment in Malawi Compared to most countries in SSA, Malawi ad justed well to adverse external shocks in the 1970s (Harrigan, 2001; Chilowa, 1998; Lele 1987; Lele, 1989, Archaya, 1981). However, numerous other external problems including a drought, a major decline in external terms of trade, higher interest rates on externally borrowed capital, a sharp increase in external transport costs, and a substantial influx of refug ees, the latter two resulting from political strife in neighboring Mozambique accompanied the second oil shock in 1979. So many problems occurring simultaneously proved to be too much for the ec onomy to absorb (Lele, 1989). Essentially, much of Malawis economic crisis actually developed from 1979 through to 1981 (Kaluwa, Silumbu, Ngalande-Banda, & Chilowa, 1992; Kydd, 1988).


89 Since 1981, Malawi has implemented reforms designed to eliminat e distortions and unfairness against smallholder agriculture. The st ated and official purpose was to provide all smallholder farmers an environment where they would have much greater access to resources. In order to reach that goal, all the SAP loans c ontained a section stating that the government was to guarantee establishing an a ppropriate price policy that woul d furnish incentives to producers and develop the role of the privat e sector in the marketing of sma llholder crops (Bhalla, Chipete, Taye, & Mkandawire, 2000). At the time, it appeared the government adopt ed one of the most ambitious programs of structural adjustment in Afri ca in an attempt to restore m acroeconomic balance (Lele, 1989; Harrigan, 2001). However, it turned out that the dualistic structure of Malawi's agricultural sector complicated the program (Christian sen & Kydd, 1987; Sahn & Ar ulpragasam, 1994). Since agriculture is the main economic activity in Malawi, the focus of the discussion of structural adjustment will be on that sector. As mentioned an d important to note, Malawis agriculture is divided into two sub-sectors the result of policies during Bandas rule divided the sector up between an estate sector and a smallholder sector. The estate sector provides approximately 95 percent of the countries exports (Lele, 1989). The smallholder sector is a different story altogether. It is also divided into two with le ss than half the holdings having enough land to meet subsistence needs and po ssibly some surplus to sell (Lele, 1989). Consequently, more than half of small holders do not have ad equate land size and thus cannot meet subsistence requirements. Most of small holders are living in pove rty and facing serious land pressures. Additionally, they depend mainly on agriculture for employment. In effect, Bandas purpose for creating the dua listic agriculture was to create a pool of peasant labor to work on the estates. The estates, in turn, were part of the Bandas patronage system for political


90 clients who benefited from the abundance of impoveri shed available labor. The important point is that the IFIs in implementing the SAPs paid no heed to Malawi s unique agricultural configuration. It was a serious failing on the part of the IFIs resulting in the hoped for invigoration of agriculture and by ex tension, the economy never happening. As Lele (1989) argues, this dualism-within-d ualism was not considered relevant to the structural adjustment program particularly the d eep poverty of the smallholder sector. It would have serious consequences for the entire proce ss of structural adjust ment. Working with macroeconomic theories, economists were unable to fathom the fact that the poverty constrained the smallholder sector from responding to or with stand the effects of m acroeconomic adjustment (Lele, 1989). Not recognizing the context of Malawis agricultural s ector resulted in two failures: a) while addressing macro-economic imbala nce, structural adjustme nt had not been able to improve aggregate supply response, and b) due to higher food and fertili zer prices, it had an adverse impact upon the poor. In other words, in creasing food prices as well as fertilizer and seed prices put the net food buyers in a bind. The majority of farmers were caught in it. They could not increase production in response to the higher prices for farm produce because they did could not afford the inputs of fertilizer and see d. If the household had any cash, it was quickly consumed by rising food prices. Fertilizer Subsidy Removal Structural adjustm ent program s were designed with great hope and ambition. Broadly speaking, they were suppose to change the structure of producti on by reducing the dependence of the economy on the agricultural sector while aimi ng at efficient productio n in the agricultural sector (Chilowa,1998; Lele, 1987; Peters, 1996b). Several policy reforms significantly benefited rural producers such as the liberalization of bur ley tobacco. Following liberalization of tobacco marketing around 1994, smallholder production quickly became a vital part of Malawis main


91 cash crop. Not all farmers could adopt burley to bacco as a cash crop, but for those who did it provided a significant in crease in income. However, in recent years, for a number of reasons, tobacco prices have fallen reducing profitability (Orr, 2000; Owens, 1999). One factor was increased burley tobacco production in Mozambique and especially Tanzania. Unlike Ma lawi, these countries ar e not landlocked and have ports out of which the tobacco is shipped. Because of the disparity in transport costs, Malawis tobacco could not compete and if it is to sell, the price has to be lower. Another important factor was the increa sing cost of fertilizer. There are other problems with tobacco produc tion. For one, tobacco has not made as large an impact on rural poverty reduction as or iginally hoped (Peters, 1996a; Ellis, Kutengule & Nyasulu, 2002). For a significantly large number of households barely capable of achieving food security from maize production, fluctuations in pri ces, and issues regarding quality translates into output being rejected at auction or attracts prices below the co sts of producti on, particularly when the market is depressed (Ellis, et al., 2002). Declining tobacco prices emphasizes the im portance of maize in the rural economy as food security continues to be the number one issue for smallholders. Maize is the staple food crop with maize cultivation o ccupying between 70 and 80 percent of the cropped land and grown predominantly by smallholders (Lele, 1989; F AO, 2005; Tchale, Kumwenda, Wobst & Mduma, 2005). Understandably, the last decade has witn essed disturbing trends with maize production increasing concerns about Malawis future in the short and midterm (Chirwa & Zakeyo, 2003; Dorward and Kydd, 2004; Devereaux, 2002b). Frequent crop shortfalls are occurring at a time when population density is increasing, farm sizes are shrinking through both subdivision and the fact that there is only marginal land left to expa nd to, and land fertility is decreasing because of


92 continuous cropping without nutrient replenishment. The standard agronomic response to these developments is to compensate for smaller la nd size by intensifying yiel ds, which is signally important for Malawi because other employment and livelihood options ar e very limited (Tchale, et al. 2005). Since the soils in Mala wi have been mined of nutrien ts, the only way to do that is adding fertilizer. Unfortunately, for the majority of farmers, the dramatic and steep rise in fertilizer prices due to SAPs has placed it out of reach. Conse quently, increased food insecurity is dictating the future of Malawis agriculture policies, a fact that does not bode well fo r a country that has to rely on agriculture for economic development. As farmers turn towards producing food for household consumption by devoting land to low yi elding maize, the country cannot earn the foreign exchange it needs to pay back its debt let alone invest in public goods. These factors underscore the decidedly high negative impact rem oval of the fertilizer subsidy had not just on the smallholder sector but also on national development policy Originally, the subsidy on fertilizer wa s part of the governments agricultural development plan. The purpose was to provide an economic benefit to smallholders by increasing maize yields and in the process ma intain food security. However, in 1983, the government agreed to gradually remove the subsi dy as part of a structural adjustment policy package that was designed correct Malawis fisc al imbalance (Sahn & Arulpragasm, 1994). The governments commitment however, wa s halfhearted since it recognized that removal of the subsidy would threaten the food s ecurity of millions of pe ople. In reality, the rural economy was simply too h eavily dependent on estate-produced tobacco, which needed very cheap labor. Thus, the dualism created to provide the labor for the estates also contributed to the situation in rural Malawi t oday. By all accounts, rural pove rty is very high with around 80


93 percent of rural households bei ng net buyers of maize and 55 per cent unable to meet their basic needs (Harrigan, 2001). Because of continued declining soil fertility, food security became a priority. Food security is a national concern in Ma lawi and it revolves around subsistence maize cultivation (Lele, 1989; FAO, 2005). Declining so il fertility increase pres sure to put land under maize, thereby shrinking the oppor tunities for cash crop producti on (Peters, 1999; Uttaro, 1998). This represents a major challenge for the government because both intensifying maize production and increasing cash crop production are essential for economic growth in the agricultural sector. The irony is that neither can really be achieved through reliance on market reforms alone. In the first place, poverty means vulnerability and therefor e risk aversion is the main strategy of subsistence farmers. In this scenario, subsistence farmers may not be thinking of participating in the market but with food yields, declining th eir main concern is growing all the food they can so they are not dependent on the market (Lele, 1989). In addition, without access to credit or inputs, their ab ility to increase their own produc tivity by risking investment in improved technologies is nearly non-existent. As food and fertilizer prices go up, it only serves to aggravate their precarious situation. As a result, without the majority of farmers able to participate in the liberalized economy, economic growth is severely constrained. Criticism of SAPs and Fertilizer Subsidy Removal Although it is true that the stat e in Africa fell short in many ways and should re-evaluate its role in development (World Bank, 1981; Ergas, 1986), there are reasons not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Structural adjustment is s een as doing just that. Th ere is a vast literature criticizing SAPs (See Staatz, 1990; Roe,1990; Vartianinen, 1995; Owasu et al ., 2002; Teivainen, 2002; Dembele, 2004). Much of this critic ism centers on the how SAPs affect state policymaking, with devastating consequences on the poor (Kydd, 1988; Gladwin, 1992; Lewis,


94 1994; Mkandawire & Soludo, 1999; Kaluwa et al. 1992). The common theme in this literature is that the SAPs function as an intervention on behalf of the market, removing the state from control over public services and limiting the state s function of guaranteeing that ordinary people have access to them. It is also argued that SA Ps disengage the state from protecting the most vulnerable in society leaving them to fend for th emselves. It is no clearer than with providing subsidies, which under structural adjustment mean s the state no longer help protect poor farmers particularly as they try to c ope with rapidly rising costs th at threaten their survival. There is little doubt African economies needed structural stabilization and adjustment (Lele, 1991; Sahn, 1992). Even so, Malawi represen ts an example of what turns out to be the major criticism of SAPs: they ar e so theoretically embedded that it becomes a one-size-fits-all program. Essentially and of si gnificant importance for this study, the IFIs failed to see the unique and challenging context of th e agricultural sector and in that failure, did not allow for the provisioning of policies that coul d address the social and economic needs of the people. Instead, the assumptions on which the policies were based significantly exacerbated the poverty of the smallholder sector. Blind to the circumstances of the most vulnerable groups in society, SAPs worsened their plight and in doing so created even greater problems (Cornia et al ., 1987). No group highlights this better than female-headed households, the poorest of the poor (Gladwin, 1991). Devaluations of the currency (kwacha) and the subsequent rise in prices left them unable to respond positively (Lele, 1991; Peters, 1996) Moreover, as SAPs reduce government expenditures in education, health services, and research, the rippling effect is extensive. Although this phenomenon impinges on everyone, th e effects are disproportionately felt by women and children. As services meant to keep a population smarte r and healthier are cut, labor productivity in agriculture is negatively affected.


95Conclusion Removal of fertilizer subsidies was particularly problematic for developing Malawis agricultural sector. Indeed, its rationale when applied to the Malawian context appears to be aimed at furthering underdevelopment rather than development. Gladwin (1991) draws attention to the importance of fertilizer for smallholders arguing that removal of subsidies under SAPs is politically motivated and not economically sound. In a country where 80 percent of the population is engaged in agricu lture, land pressures are high a nd soil fertility low, and food security is the greatest challenge, it is hard to argue with her. Ferti lizer is the lynchpin in combating food insecurity and the SAPs have literal ly pulled subsidies off the table. I attended a conference in 1997 in Lilongwe, where the donor community and the Ministry of Agriculture met to address growing concerns of food insecuri ty and starvation due to projection of a lower maize harvest. Papers were presented with policy proposals including a paper by Ann Conroy, an economist and consultant to the government of Malawi. In the paper, Conroy set forth several policy proposals to address the dire situation unfolding in Mala wi (Conroy, 1997). However, the one proposal that was not offered wa s reinstating fertilizer subsidies. In fact, I was present at a discussion where the USAID representative simply said that rein stating the subsidy would result in the United States withdrawing support of Malawis balance of payments. Essentially, Malawi was told to give the market more time. The most significant counterargument to SAPs is that there is littl e empirical support for this full faith in markets and conversely, the lack of faith in any state interventions. While the majority of the countries that have adopted st ructural adjustment programs are in Africa and Latin America, the countries in South and East As ia that the World Bank pointed to as excellent models of development have not been under its guidance (Chang 2003; Rodrik, 1995; Vartiainen, 1999). Indeed, it was no t the free market but the state that played a vital and active


96 role in the transformation of th eir economies from small agrarian based to highly industrialized and competitive in the global market. The fact that neoliberal inspired policies have not achieved their goal is because they have not recognized all the factors that created the imbalances in th e first place. Of particularly importance are the previous effects of being exposed to exogenous global capitalist forces that undercut the capacity of the state to lead developm ent. As mentioned previously, the two events that brought the developing worlds economies to its knees are the 1970s oil shocks and the crash of primary commodity prices in the 1980s. W ith export commodity prices down states found themselves with serious balance of payments probl ems. With little hope of recovery in the near term and nowhere else to go, developing countries reeling from this double blow turned to the IMF and World Bank. For Malawi, the remedy applied through SAPs m eant that access to fertilizer, a key factor for her development, w ould no longer be feasible for the majority of farmers. In effect, the baby went out with the bath water. Admittedly, the free market economic argument ag ainst subsidies is strong. Subsidies do create market distortions that can impede longterm development. Subsidies create an unfair environment in which the private sector canno t compete and thus leave the market open to inefficiencies in provisioning ag ricultural inputs. Subsidies also can create discourage farmers from diversifying into other crops possibly missing opportunities (Africa Research Institute, 2007). They can be an avenue for corruption as well as have a negative affect regarding missed opportunity costs (Kelly, Adesina & Gordon, 2003). Nevertheless, there are no viable alternatives to subsidiz ing fertilizer in achieving food securi ty in Malawi in the short-term (Africa Research Institute, 2007).


97 To even the nonprofessional obser ver like myself, it seems that the best way to improve food security is to raise productiv ity with fertilizer. Since Malawi has very severe land pressure and fertility issues, fertilizer should play a vita l role in this regards. Even as common sense informs us of the practicality, removal of the fe rtilizer subsidy had its own rationale provided by the IFIs. The disagreement over po licy arose because the IFIs did not view structural adjustment from the same position as advocates for keeping the subsidy. The issue comes down to the best way to achieve food security. With SAPs, f ood security would be achieved through increased production and that would only come about when pri ces were right. In es sence, it was believed that by adjusting the prices for farm goods upwards the market would provide the incentives for producers and thus stimulate increased production. For the IFIs the greater priority were budgeta ry concerns and removal of the subsidy was one of the many elements of World Bank SAPs. Th e subsidy was seen only as a distortion in the market costing the government scarce monetary re sources that could otherw ise be applied to the debt. It was fully removed in 1995. In the next chapter, we look at how farmers responded to the fertilizer subsidy removal policy. We des cend to the village level where macroeconomic statistics do not translate well but the shocks are felt most strongl y. It is a portrayal of how structural adjustment and the removal of the fertilizer subsidy policy in Malawi influences farmers decision making, limiting choices as to what to plant and the reasons behind those decisions. The results are seldom seen or unde rstood by the neoliberal economists at the IFIs, possibly because absolute faith in the market a ssumes much different outcomes. As I show in the next chapter, without access to fertilizer, living conditions have worsened evidenced by the reduced decisions people are making.


98 CHAPTER 4 STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT AND DIMI NISHING CHOICES AT THE VILL AGE LEVEL31 In Malawi, the bottom poor were osaukitsitsa,mainly households headed by the aged, the sick, disabled orphans and widow s. Some were described as onyentchera the stunted poor, with thin bodies, short stature and thin hairs, bodies that did not shine even after bathing, and who experience frequent il lnesses and a severe lack of food.32 William Easterly, The Elusive Quest for Growth It's a perfect trap: poor soils lead to poor harvests, and poor harvests lead to poor households unable to replenish the soil.33 Jeffrey Sachs In the early morning hours on any given day in the middle of September 1998, one would find people already queuing at the ADMARC on the edge of the town of Myaka, a trading center in the southern region of Malawi. They came early waiting to buy maize so they could feed their families. For just about everyone in line, ADMARC, the agricultural marketing parastatal established in the early post independence years,34 was a familiar place. In past years, both good and bad, ADMARC reliably provided them the seed a nd fertilizer needed to grow their maize. At harvest time, ADMARC would purchase their surplus produce. That was in past years though. In 1998, ADMARCs role was changing and that partially explains why people were queuing early at virtually every ADMARC in Malawi. The other part of the explanation is 31 A revised version of this chapter appeared as: Uttaro, Robert. "Diminishing Choices: Gender, Small Bags of Fertilizer, and Household Food Security Decisions in Malawi. African Studies Quarterly 6, no.1: [online] URL: http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v5/v6i1a4.htm Reprinted with permission from African Studies Quarterly. 32 This passage was taken from William Easterlys book The Elusive Quest for Growth 2002, pp. 10-11. The section in quotation is from Narayan, Deepa, Robert Chambers, Meera Shah, and Patti Petesch. 2000. Crying Out for Change: Voices of the Poor. 33 What a little fertilizer can do http://www.time.c om/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1647466,00.html 34 The acronym stands for Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation. It was established by the government to control prices on smallholder produce with the intent of raising revenue for the government. Up until recent years, the corporation enjoyed a monopoly on the purchase of virtually all marketable peas ant produce. It was also the only institution that supplied inputs to peasant farmers. In 1996, the government, under pressure to liberalize its economy, passed the Privatization Act, aimed to divest the government of much of its assets and enhance the role of the private sector in agriculture. In accordance with the Privatization Ac t, the government prepared for the commercialization and privatization of ADMARC by end-March 1999, with implementation to begin not long after.


99 within a series of events and factors that essent ially started tens of t housands of people walking to ADMARC in September 1998. The sequence of events started much earlier when Malawi agreed to implementing the SAPs and removal of the subsidy on fertilizer in particular. As a result a shortage of maize resulted making it very expensive for most Mala wians. Other factors helped to make the situation worse. Liberalization of the economy op ened the market up to private traders, a new phenomenon that came with privatization and st ructural adjustment. In 1998, private traders were hoarding maize and simply waiting for the maize to run out at each ADMARC center. When that happened, the traders would pull out their scales, take out their bags of maize and open shop. If they were patient, they could command twice the price or more than what ADMARCs official price.35 Long queues mean long waits but amazingly, but on the day I visited, there were no complaints from the people in line. The ADM ARC officials were delaying their opening. I estimated about four or so dozen 50-kilogram bags of maize were stacked in the depot. A bag about one third full was next to the scale. The manager said he expected a truck loaded with maize to arrive that day but he was not sure. He noted that it was s uppose to come two days earlier and did not. I was told th at some drivers were selling part s of their load to connected traders. Rumors, like hunger, were the only things that seemed in abundance. On that morning, I met a woman standing in line. She told me she comes to ADMARC twice a week to buy maize for her family if sh e has any money. Her story echoes the stories of millions. Poverty and hunger limits choices. She said she is very concerned for her family. 35 I personally witnessed this happening. In one instance, after the ADMARC shut down because it ran out of maize (even after rationing) the private traders started selling ma ize at 17MK per kilogram or 10MK higher than what ADMARC sold it for.

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100 There is absolutely no money for other necessities, such as soap, sugar, etc. No longer married as her husband died a few years ago, she is now th e sole provider for her family. Her village is approximately six kilometers away and she walks the distance. She cannot afford to spend what little money she has on transport. The weather divides Malawis seasons betw een the rainy and the dry. It also has influence on a third season that people call the hungry season, the time between harvests when people run out of maize. For this woman at ADMARC, the hungry season had arrived and would remain until early March when the first gree n maize is harvested. Then, if the rains are good and are on time, she and her family would be eating their own maize grown in her small garden. There is a problem, though: she only plants local maize because she cannot afford hybrid seed or fertilizer. Local maize is therefore cheaper but th ere is a price to pay and a huge risk to take. The price her family pays is th at local maize takes longer to mature which means the hungry season lingers. The risk is that the ra iny season, much less pred ictable than in earlier decades, may end early, stunting maize growth and drastically reducing yields. If that happens (and it did in 2001), the hungry season arrives cruelly early. Nevertheless, she is prayerful for a good harvest. The difference between a good harves t and a poor one is measured less in bags and more in time. Since her land size is small, a good harvest will keep her family fed until the end of October. A poor one and she will be gin her twice-weekly walk to ADMARC to buy maize in September, if she has money. It is a huge and understandable concern. In September of 1998, a 50kg bag of maize cost Malawi Kwacha (MK) 350 at ADMARC. In September 2001, it would be a much different and worse story. Then she would most likely not be buying at ADMARC due to ADMARCs low maize stocks. In September 2001, if she had to buy maize in the private market, the price would

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101 range between MK 15 17/ kg. If she continue d to buy into December 2 001, the price would be MK22 to MK25 / kg or MK1175 for a 50kg bag, three times as much as the price three years ago. It would get considerably worse in 2002. The year 2001/2002 was significant for a numbe r of reasons. Weather patterns were especially erratic around the country that year Some regions were hit with heavy flooding followed by a nasty and prolonged drought while others experienced significantly lower precipitation. Not all regions were affected the same and even within regions, not all farmers faced ruin. Those who planted hybrid maize were the fortunate ones harvesting their maize before the drought set in. Farmers planting local maize were not so lucky. Rumors of a devastating famine began to circulate as early as October 2001 (Menon, 2007). Outside agencies such as USAIDs Fami ne Early Warning System began alerting the world of a potentially difficult year ahead for Ma lawi and Southern Africa due to the weather (FEWSNET, 2002). At about the same time th e government of Malawi also significantly reduced its crop estimates. Although weather wa s initially blamed, other factors led some to conclude that the famine of 2002 was as much a policy failure as a nything else (Devereaux, 2002a & 2002b). Just how far removed the governme nt was from the concerns and needs of the people is reveled in ADMARCs response to th e warnings of famine. In 2001, ADMARC failed to purchases of sufficient quant ities of maize from the farmers. USAID listed three reasons for ADMARCs low stocks: (a) the general drop in maize producti on, resulting in a net maize deficit in the country; (b) ADMARC s late entry into the maize market after the private traders had already bought most of the maize from the fa rmers; and (c) ADMARCs low producer price, only about half of what the private traders were offering. When ADMARC decided to adjust its

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102 purchase price upward it did so very late after the harvest (USA ID/FEWS NET Nov-Dec 2001Monthly Report). Adding upward pressure on prices is the fact that the G overnment of Malawi (GoM) made a controversial decision to se ll its strategic reserve of maize purportedly at the behest of the IMF in order to raise money for debt pa yment and government operation expenditures (Devereux, 2002b; Stevens, Devereux & Kennan, 2002; ActionAid USA, 2002). The act itself appears to contradict the very purpose of the strategic grain reserve, which the government committed to maintain as a means to even out maize availability between years of drought. Moreover, it shows both a high level of insensit ivity to the suffering of people as well as subordinating their suffering to IMF and donor priorities. The IMF has denied advising the GOM or the National Food Reserve Agency to sell off the strategic maize reserve. It is not clear what happened to all the proceeds from the sale. The rise in prices due to either weather or international pres sures has devastating consequences on the poor. The unfortunate fact is that price increases ripple quickly thorough a household budget. The more meager that budget, the greater the ripple effect and is starkly evident in Malawi. Maize is not the only commodity th at has risen in price. Over the last half dozen years, the inflation rate has ravaged peoples meager savings. The worst year was 1995 when food prices went up 133% while overall inflation wa s at 98% (NSO, 2005). By 2001, according to the National Statistical Office of Malawi, the inflatio n rate stood at 25% but this certainly was not the case with maize. For this woman standing in line, this number had nothing to do with maize. She knows food is unaffordable as is the fertilize r she needs for her crops. She knows that the price for CAN went from MK 265 for a 50kg ba g in 1998 to MK662 in 2000; that 23:21:0 + 4s

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103 went from MK347 to MK837 in the same period. 36 She also knows that in this same period her kwacha buys far less due to many devaluations. For example, in 1998, the exchange rate was 44 kwacha to 1 US dollar; in 2000 it was 80 to 1. Meanwhile the wages she earned doing casual labor what is called ganyu -has remained stagnant.37 Her food security situation is not exceptional. Many smallholder and subsistence farmers, men and women, are no longer able to produce enough food for their families. They are subsistence farmers who cannot afford the inputs n ecessary for an abundant harvest. It is a sad reality for far too many families in Malawi. This chapter is about them. Not just the osaukitsitsa or onyentchera the bottom poor as in the Easterly reference at the t op of this chapter, but the majority of people in rural Malawi. Its purpose is to provide a look at th e decisions people made in the wake of the SAPs. Decisions made in the context of a terrible downward cycle of diminishing choices and diminishing returns. The center point from which all th e decisions seem to cascade out of is the lack of adequate fertilizer, not because it is scarce but because it is too expensive. Th e cost placed it beyond the reach of the very people Malawi needs to lead the way towards economic development. Even under the most favorable climatic conditions, they cannot afford to purchase fertilizer. The focus of this chapter is especially on women farmers and their role in providing the food for their families and by extension, the nation. Both women and men were adversely affected by structural adjustment; however, in comparison, women have carried more of the burden imposed by the structural adjustment po licies. After all, womens labor keeps the household functioning, the children fed, and the food bi ns stocked. Policies that influence yields 36 CAN is the acronym for calcium ammonium nitrate and is the most common inorganic fertilizer applied by small holders because of its cheaper co st relative to other fertilizers 37 Ganyu or casual labor pay varies not only by location but also by type of compensation. As such, it is impossible to measure and thus monitor.

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104 of maize affect the livelihoods of all. For th is reason, the impact the fertilizer subsidy removal had on women and the decisions they make needs closer examination. Under structural adjustment reforms, hous ehold food insecurity increased with the subsidy removal, which started in 1986 but not effectively implemented until 1994 (Chilowa, 1998). In 2001/02, the food security situation was estimated to be tight with possibilities of starvation reported in a number of districts especially in the South and Central regions (FEWS NET, 2002). In the north, the situation was sligh tly better as people with money were able to buy cheaper maize from local sources as well neig hboring Tanzania. Severe flooding in parts of Malawi in the first half of 2001 exacerbated the situation (SADC Food Security Quarterly Bulletin, October, 2001). To add to the suffe ring, drought during the height of the growing season decimated crops in early 2002. Estimates ranged from three to seven million people or more faced starvation (Devereux, 2002b & 2002c; Magrath, Hillier & Bookstein, 2002; Owusu & Ngambi, 2002). Without fertilizer, the nutrient depleted soil does not produce enough maize. Without fertilizer, they plant less hybrid maize, an expens ive but less risky alternat ive to local maize. And with less maize, the number of households affected by an ever-d eepening crisis of food insecurity is steadily in creasing (Owens, 1999). Njala the Chichewa word for hunger is heard in villages throughout Malawi. Fertilizer and food security are closely rela ted, more so in Malawi than in many other countries. Large populations on smallholdings, land degradation, and soil infertility are significant factors linking the two. The IFIs s hould have considered this context prior to implementing the fertilizer subsidy removal. Moreover, this context amplifies the link of fertilizer to famine. Sen (1999) argues that famine is not cau sed by food scarcity but because

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105 people cannot afford it. When stories of famine come out of Malawi, the weather is most often cited as the cause. Sometimes the lack of fertilizer is mentioned but usually in passing. Certainly, droughts and floods can destroy crops a nd throw whole communities into distress. People, villages and governments can only respond to weather related cat astrophes, not control them. Famine caused by inadequate fertilizer is a famine due to food shortages. The influence fertilizer, or lack of it, does not invalidate Sens argument but rather sheds a disturbing light on the causes of famine. 38 It is policy that affects access to fertilizer and in this case a policy made in Washington. Malawis soils are losing their ability to pr oduce. Food self-sufficiency is a distant and fading goal. Declining soil fertil ity is constraining food production and has been for a number of years now (IFPRI, 1997). This fact was clear to everyone no t only the farmers themselves back in 1996, but also agronomists and soil scientists, technocrats and politicia ns. Poor yields and hungry children provide disturbing yet ample evidence of a problem growing only worse every day. As the price of fertilizer exceeds farmers reach, hunger sp read throughout the country and the hunger season lengthens. As the depletion and degr adation of Malawis soils continues, people who depend on these soils for subsistence are finding that their opti ons to deal with the crisis are severely limited. This chapter examines two of those options: the use of inorganic fertilizer and the planting of hybrid maize. Both options are interrelated for several reasons but the most significant is that hybrid maize n eeds fertilizer to make it wort h planting. Generaly, maize in Malawi is divided into two cat egories: local and hybrid. Local maize is very popular and many 38 Reports placed a share of the blame for the famines Malawi faced since 1998 on the decline in the use of fertilizer on hybrid maize and the decline in the planting of hybrid. It is believed that the drought would have been less severe if fertilizer and hybrid seed were made available to all Malawis smallholder farmers this past year as the Starter Pack Program did in the previ ous three years. See Man-Made Food Crisis Grips Southern Africa Christian Science Monitor, May 15, 2002.

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106 smallholder subsistence farmers plant it. Hybr id maize was developed to intensify production and therefore improve food self-sufficiency. Comp ared to local maize, hybrid has two distinct advantages. First, it produces significantly higher yields. Sec ond, it matures much faster than local maize and minimizes the risk of crop loss if the rains should happen to end sooner than normal. In the current economic environment, however planting hybrid maize has two significant drawbacks. The first is the price of the seed. Whereas local maize seed can be obtained from the previous years crop, hybrid seed needs to be pur chased in order to maintain the advantage of higher yields. The other drawback is that the poor soils require fertilizer or nutrient amendments. Hybrid is now an expensive investme nt. With fertilizer now out of the reach of most smallholder farmers, planting hybrid maize is much riskier. 39 Unfertilized hybrid maize yields generally are not that significantly better than local maize to justify the price of the seeds, although research has shown that in certain climatic and soil conditions it can be. Nevertheless, farmers have seen a steep increase in the pri ces of both hybrid seed and fertilizer causing many to reconsider the risk of planting hybrid. Usi ng money for unfertilized hybrid seed might be better spent on something else. Weather has to stand out as the greatest risk all farmers face for the obvious reason that it is outside human agency. Decisions concerning hybrid maize and fertilizer are riskier for poor households in part because the weather can deva state the vulnerable house holds economies. If the rains are heavy and the hybrid crop is washed away or the fertiliz er leeches through, a significant loss is incurred. Even though rain pa tterns vary considerably throughout the country, 39 Since the mid-1990s, fertilizer prices have risen sharply while a series of currency devaluations and high inflation rates have severely eroded household purchasing power. The upshot being that most smallholder farmers have been unable to afford adequate amounts of fertilizer, if any at all.

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107 in the 1998 and 2001 floods and drought devastat ed much of the country. Many farmers fortunate enough not to suffer from the flood in 2 001 may not have been so lucky in escaping the ravages of the current drought. It seems likely that these experiences will a ffect future decisions concerning planting hybrid maize. Although food production is an important aspect of household food security or insecurity, it is not the only one and focusing only on increa sing production would not necessarily convert a household from being food-insecure to being food-secure. Other factors certainly influence a households food security including land size, family size, poverty and outside or off-farm income generating activities, to name just a few (Gladwin, Thomson, Peterson, & Anderson, 1998). Thus, a household with only a small pa rcel of land, limited income, high poverty and seven mouths to feed most likely will never be able to produce enough food to be food secure. Nonetheless, a trend of increasing production is a key factor contributing to achieving both household and national food security partic ularly for the poorest countries (Shapouri & Rosen, 1999). For Sub-Saharan Africa, and particular ly Malawi, it will not be an easy task. In order to meet nutritional requirements by 2008, grai n yields will have to increase by a rate 60 percent higher than achieved dur ing 1980 (Shapouri & Rosen. 1999). Increasing production would help close th e food gap shorten the hungry season and have a positive impact on an impoverished family, simply because the less frequently food is purchased during the hungry season, when prices are typically high, means that more cash can be spent on other necessities.40 Thus, decisions made by subsiste nce farmers particularly women 40 It is estimated that in Malawi, 65% of the population lives below the poverty line and on less than $2 per day or MK134 (USAID/FEWS, 2001). Using the current ADMARC official price for maize at MK17 per kg (and not the market price of MK25 per kg, an increase in production of just three bags of maize would have a value of MK2550 for the household. Of course, how the increase in producti on comes about is not addressed in this calculation. At the time of the research, using inorga nic fertilizer on hybrid maize was no t recommended due to the high producer fertilizer to maize price ratio. However, at current prices, it may start to make sense to use fertilizer on maize.

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108 farmers who usually produce the subsistence crops in Malawi that aff ect production and yields are vitally important in addressing household food security and poverty. Household Food Security The concept as well as the locus of food secu rity has evolved since the early 1970s. Up until the mid 1980s, analyses of food security were concerned with increasing national food stocks and stabilizing the supply of basic staples (Staatz, 1990). Since the mid -1980s and much due to the writings of Amartya Sen (1999), however the focus shifted to one of identifying the particular households that were food insecure and increasing their a ccess to reliable food supplies. As a concept, food security incorporat ed access by all people at all times to sufficient food, in terms of quality, quantity and diversity, for an active and healthy lif e without risk of loss of such access (Reutlinger,1985; United Nations, 1988; World Bank, 1986). National food security is now recognized as a necessary but not a sufficient condition for household food security (WorldBank, 1990). Household food security is a better construct because it reveals a multidimensional perception of all the factors contributes to food security beyond the supply-side factor of aggregate f ood production. Household income and poverty on the demand-side of the equation are now consider ed key in determining whether a household is food secure or insecure (Gladwin, et al ., 2001; von Braun, 1991; Adedeji, 1989). Viewing food security in this way show poor households caught in a vice: they are limite d in their ability to purchase food outright while at the same time unable to increase production due to inadequate resources for sufficient inputs (e.g., see d, fertilizer) at the proper time. As the concept of food security evolved, vari ous themes and sub-themes appeared in the literature. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, nutrition became an important measurable variable in defining household food security and determ ining whether households were food security (World Food Program/World Bank, 1991). House holds are now considered food secure when

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109 they are able to obtain adequate levels of food, either through home production, purchases or exchanges, to maintain a healthy and active life throughout the year(UNI CEF, 1990:2; Alamgir & Aurora, 1991). Household purchases of food now become as important as household production of its own food. In addition, househol d self-sufficiency in food does not guarantee adequate nutritional levels w ithin the household (UNICEF, 1991). Intra-household distribution of food may be skewed such that there are individuals within th e family who are malnourished. If adequate nutritional levels are to be ach ieved and sustained, th en reducing poverty and increasing incomes become parallel streams of c oncern. Sen suggests that more emphasis should be placed on reducing poverty than introducing technologies to increase food production with food insecure households, because they will never be food self-sufficient. Farmers with little land 0.3 hectares or less are chronically food insecure when they depend on their own food production (Gladwin et al ., 2001).41 Furthermore, simply increas ing production of subsistence crops may be ineffective (ibid). Current thinki ng about food security th at it is an issue of household income and poverty and not just inad equate aggregate food production challenges programs which encourage women to just grow mo re food crops to improve their food security. Instead, government should look for ways to improve returns to farmers resources in a broader context, which may include expanded opportunities for non-farm micro enterprises and agricultural labor (ibid). Essentially, smallholders, particularly women, have either to find off farm work, be involved in income genera ting activities, or grow crops for sale. 41 Gladwin, et al., argues that simply increasing production of subsistence crops may be ineffective. Current thinking about food security, that it is an issue of hous ehold income and poverty and not just inadequate aggregate food production, challenges programs which encourage women to just grow more food crops to improve their food security. Instead, government should look for ways to improve returns to farmers resources in a broader context, which may include expanded opportunities for non-farm micro enterprises and agricultural labor. See Gladwin, et al., 1998. Addressing Food Security In Africa Via Multiple Livelihood

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110 It is this latter point that growing hybrid maize addresses, although clearly not the only reason to grow it. Yet even hoping to sell hybrid to raise cash is problema tic for food insecure smallholders. Typically, they te nd to sell part of their hybrid maize crop right after harvest, partly because it does not store well and partly due to a great need for cash in the household at the end of the hungry season. Unfortunately, that is the time when the market price is lowest giving them a much lower return then if they waited until demand spiked the price upwards. Thus, poor households are caught in a dismal cycle of selling when prices are depressed and then re-entering the market to buy when demand driv es the price much higher. Scarce money goes toward buying maize and not much else. Should the cash run out be fore the next harvest, then hunger is assured, starvation possible, good health rare and chronic malnutrition persists. Achieving goals of healthy nutrition and food secu rity are intimately li nked with issues of poverty alleviation and human resour ces development. In turn, thes e issues cannot be adequately engaged without a thorough understanding of gender relations and the role women have in the household. It is therefore necessary to i nvestigate who makes the decisions regarding production, income generation, and crop selection with in the household. Gender and household food security: There is no denying that the role of women in agriculture in Africa is extensive. The importance of women in this vital sector was first introduced in Boserups seminal work Womens Role in Economic Development in 1970. Since then, a burgeoning field of re search has built on her pione ering work deepening our understanding of the vital position women occ upy in food production and their primary position in the household decision process. For exampl e, in the early 1980s, Dixon estimated that women made up on average 46 percent of the of agri cultural labor force in Africa (Dixon, 1982). Nevertheless, as vital as their ro le is, womens concerns continue to get less attention in the food

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111 security literature. The rationale given for this lack of attention to womens contribution is that male farmers are more productive than farms of female-headed househol ds. The weakness of this line of reasoning lies in th e very issue discussed here and that is ignoring gender obscures the constraints that hinder wo mens productive capabilities (Quisumbing, 1996; Due & Galdwin, 1991). Particularly salient in the study of household food security in sub-Saharan Africa is how gender factors into a multitude of decisions in cluding what to produce and how to produce it, land allocation, how money should be spent in the acquisition or production of food and what are the opportunities and choices in the decision process. In addition, analysis through gender allows greater attention to be paid to the c onstraints that limit womens productivity and the effect on womens workload (Gladwin, 1997; Gladwin et al. 2001). Womens role in agriculture is vital and supported by numer ous publications attesting to that fact (NSO/Government of Malawi, 2005; Green and Ba den, 1994; Due and Gladwin, 1991; Gladwin, 1991; Dixon, 1982; Boserup, 1970). Accordi ng to the Ministry of Agriculture, women are the dominant agricultural labor force. In 1993, 92.5 percent of female labor was involved in agriculture compared to 69.3 percent of men (UNIMA/SARDC 1997). Over 30 percent of Malawis GDP is produced by agriculture with two thirds coming from the smallholder sector. Since the mid-1990s the smallholder sub-sector is made up of nearly 1.8 million farms dominated by women with estimates of 30-40 percent of the families being female headed. Disturbingly, half of the female-headed smallholder households do not reach the 40th percentile of income, as compared to a third of sm allholder male heads of households (ibid.) Landholding size has a pronounced effect on th e success of smallholder agriculture, as does labor availability and money for inputs like seed and fertilizer Therefore, it also has an

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112 equally significant effect on hous ehold food security. In 1991/92, 41 percent of smallholders had farms of less than half a hectare (UNIMA/S ARDC, 1997). As population pressures increase, landholding size is expected to shrink from 0.46 ha per person in 1987 to 0.31 ha by 2001 (ibid). The logical conclusion is as clea r as it is distressing: alrea dy impoverished farmers with the smallest landholdings, half of whom are female-headed households (FHHs), will bear the brunt of this downward spiral (World Bank, 1995b; Government of Malawi/UNICEF, 1993). In Malawi, women play a predominant ro le in producing, storing, processing and preparing food for the family. They concentrat e on growing food for their familys consumption compared to men who are often more involved in growing cash crops. As a result, cash income is much less for women as they tend to be invo lved much more in informal income generating activities. The small amounts of cash these ac tivities provide are very often used to buy additional food to make up for s hortfalls (UNIMA/SARDC, 1997). It is clear that gender and household food security are fundame ntally linked in Malawi as they are in most of Africa (Goheen, 1991; ArizoNino, 1991). Moreover, just as in Malawi, the need to find ways to increase food production is e ssential as increasing pop ulations and declining soil fertility are creating intolerable conditions for millions. However, advances in food production are constrained by the invisibility f actor regarding women w ho do most of the food farming but have little access to the means nece ssary to significantly increase output and yields (Gladwin, et al ., 2001). Although African women supply 46 pe rcent of the agri cultural labor and in some societies produce up to 80 percent of the domestic food womens yields, womens adoption, and womens uses of input s are rarely reported (Gladwin, et al ., 2001). Agricultural experts seldom recognize that most of Africa s smallholders are women (Gladwin & McMillan, 1989; Dixon, 1982). While rightly contending that the effectiveness of development strategies

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113 hinges on reaching African smallholders, they make the costly error of ignor ing the fact that the constraints facing women smallholders may be an important part of the problem. The disconnect is appalling and frustrating. The key role that women play in pr ocuring adequate supplies of food for their families on a sustainable basis s hows that food security is a prime concern for them. Decision Tree Modeling Decision tree modeling was determined to be th e most appropriate way to identify criteria and constraints facing farmers in Zomba concerni ng the use of inorganic fertilizer and planting hybrid or local maize. The advantage of using decision tree models is th at they are testable, cognitive models useful in describing specific criteria a nd constraints (Williams, 1996). Decision trees are maps guiding th e observer along the way as in formants / experts go about choosing between a set of alternatives located at the top of the tree (denoted by { }) (Gladwin, 1989). The tree is composed of separate decision criteria (denoted by < >) that are arranged in a logical path that leads to a specific outcome (d enoted by [ ]), for example [Use chemical fertilizer; dont]. Once constructed, the deci sion tree model can be tested for accuracy in prediction of the choices made by another samp le of decision makers from the same group (Williams, 1996). Should the prediction accuracy of th e model be 85 percent or better, then it is judged an adequate model of individual decisi on processes of members of that group (ibid.). The researcher may then identify the main factors limiting adoption or use of one of the alternatives, such as chemical fertilizer. Th ese limiting factors are the criteria on the path leading to negative outcomes (e.g., [Dont use chemi cal fertilizer]). In this way, decision trees highlight criteria policy makers might use to encourage adoption of some intervention by the target population. When results of testing a decision tree model are disaggregated by gender, as they are in this chapter, then policy makers can clearly identify the main factors limiting

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114 adoption and use of the intervention by women as well as men. When results are disaggregated by marital status and gender, as they are here, then policy make rs can see if there are more factors limiting adoption by FHHs than men and wo men in MHHs, or if some factors are more limiting to FHHs than to MHHs. Research at the Village Level The overall purpose of researching at the vill age level was to ascerta in what criteria and constraints effected farmers decisions about us ing organic and/ or inor ganic fertilizer in an environment shaped by structural adjustment policies. In 1998, it could not have come at a more appropriate time. Fertilizer veri fication field trials had just been completed throughout Malawi with the goal of recommending fertilizer appli cation rates based on so il type (Benson, 1997). However, the economics of the situation could not be ignored and in the final analysis, based on the ratio of fertilizer prices to maize prices, the most profitable recomm endation for farmers in most areas of Malawi was to apply no fertilizer to their hybrid maize (Benson, 1997: 7). The recommendation was not put forth without serious consideration for what that would mean for resource poor farmers. For the ne ar future, the prognosis was grim. The data and information for this chapter was collected exclusively in the Zomba district of southern Malawi during the months of May and June of 1997 as part of the Gender and Soil Fertility Project though the Univ ersity of Floridas Soils Management CRSP. Zombas topography varies from mountainou s and hilly regions, located between Machinga and Zomba district in the southern area, to broad, flat plains in the uppe r Shire River and east to Lake Chilwa. The diverse topographica l characteristics cause a wide ra nge of climate diversity. As a result, temperature difference and rainfall di stribution may vary considerably between neighboring sub-districts, in effect, creating different climates fo r farmers separated by just a few kilometers. These variations and differences are important to keep in mind: Zombas variations

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115 in climate, soil, and topography make it difficult to speak of Zomba in a singular, unified way. For example, Mtubwi in the northern area of Zomb a and in the upper Shire valley is at a much lower elevation than Malosa that borders on the south of Mtubwi district Yet Mtubwi is in the rain shadow of the mountains and much drie r than its immediate neighbor to the south. The sample covered eight sub-districts. Sixty farmers were interviewed broken down into three sub-groups based on gender and marita l status and comprised 16 men in male-headed households (MHHs), 23 married female farm ers (MF) and 21 female-headed households (FHHs). Within each sub-dist rict, I interviewed 6 farmers, 2 farmers from each sub-group, if possible. A comment on the categories of MHH, MF and FHH is necessary. These were deliberately chosen in order to see if marital status had any affect on decisions concerning fertilizer and hybrid maize. I co uld have broken farmers down into just male and female but that would have muddied the waters particularly in regards to womens decisions in female-headed households. It is well recognized that the constraints FHHs face are much different than in MHH and they should be separated if the problem of household food security is to be properly addressed. Throughout the literatu re, it is suggested that women in MHHs are more likely to concede to the husband for crucial decisions. Separation of married women (MF) from FHHs was done with the hope that they (the married women) their decisions, strongly influenced by their husbands, would closely resemb le the decisions of male farmers42. 42 Admittedly, there has to be variations of gender relations in married households and I am not saying here that all married women have an equally subservient role to their husbands. For example, in some households, there may be much more consultation between husband and wife than in others. However, how much occurs is very difficult to determine. All that we can safely say is that a woma n in a FHH does make all the decisions and a man in a MHH has the final decision we just do not have any idea how much of his wifes influence is incorporated in that decision.

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116 The term women is used with the same analy tical meaning as in bulk of the literature in the gender and development sub-field where it is used extensively. The term FHH and MF is used here to differentiate between women with different marital stat us. It is hopedthat this will not be too confusing while showing that marital status imputes a c ontext of relations that creates significant differences in constraints and criteria facing the households. Constraints to Using Chemical Fertilizer In the 1995/96 season, 80% of all informants used chemical fertilizer on their maize. One year later, 1996/97, that number declined to 65% of all informants. The largest decline occurred within FHHs with a drop from 74 to 52 % of all informants using some chemical fertilizer. Male informants (Male) and Marr ied Female (MF) informants dropped 12 and 13% respectively. Over the same two seasons, there was a 27% decline in th e amount of fertilizer applied. The reasons most cited were the high price of fertilizer a nd lack of cash. Not surprisingly, FHHs showed the greatest decrease in the amount used (34%). Married female informants reduced the amount used by 22% and male informants decreased the amount used by 26%. As can be seen in Figure 4-1, for 89% of the informants, not having enough cash to obtain all the chemical fertilizer they needed was the main limiting factor (criterion 2). This is far from surprising in light of the rise in th e price of fertilizer and the devastating effects devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha has had on most rural households A very high percentage of male and married female farmers (87% and 86% respectively) did not have the cash to buy all the fertilizer they needed; while 100% of FHHs lacked the money to buy all the fertilizer they needed. Clearly, these figures suggest FHHs are the poorest of the poor. The importance of credit in the decision to use chemical fertilizer is evident from criterion 3 that separates the farmers who belong to farmers clubs and get credit for fertilizer

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117 from those who do not; the former are sent to th e outcome [Use fertilizer]. They are few, however. Criterion 6 confirms fa rmers beliefs that chemical fertilizer is essential for good yields, while criterion 7 cuts farmers into those who are able to purchase or get credit for some fertilizer versus those who are not. In this case, it is the combin ation of marital status and gender that limits use of fertilizer: only 20% of FHHs we re able to apply some fertilizer, compared to 50% of married women (MF) and 60% of male farmers (Male). Of those who could not apply some fertilizer, very few received free fertilizer from any source. Of 13 FHHs who could not obtain some fertilize r, two (12%) received some fertilizer for free. One received it from her father because s he is a widow and another received it from her mother. Of 7 married women, only one receiv ed free fertilizer, however, no male farmer received any fertilizer for free. Thus this deci sion tree suggests that thre e factors lack of cash, not belonging to an active club and not having a source for free fertilizer were the major reasons for keeping 55% of FHHs and 33% of married women and male farmers from using fertilizer. Other criteria on the tree de serve attention. Some farmers have doubts about the continued use of fertilizer; some believe it causes pest attacks and weed growth (criterion 9). Others believe they must continue to use fert ilizer, once they start, because the land gets dependent on chemical fertilizer (criterion 12). If they do not c ontinue to use it, their yields might go down (criterion 11). Some farmers thus develop strategies or practices to reduce their fertilizer use (e.g., complementary use of manur es, legumes, crop rotations) (criterion 10); farmers without such a practice feel they must continue its use so as not to invite hunger (criterion 13). In othe r words, even though 21 of 28 (75%) farm ers feel chemical fertilizer has

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118 its drawbacks, and just over half of this group knows of a practice that could reduce the use of chemical fertilizer, 82% believe th at chemical fertilizer is the best insurance for higher yields. This belief should not be underestimated as it has important implicat ions for researchers trying to develop substitutes for chemical fertili zer. Organic alternatives to chemical fertilizer are available in the form of in tercropping with grain legumes, adopting agroforestry innovations, and using animal manures but few farmers are doi ng any of these as a replacement for inorganic fertilizer. This research shows that farmers desi re chemical fertilizer because they see it as the best defense against a poor harvest. It also s hows that few, if any, have access to enough animal manure to make a difference. Finally, the res earch shows that farmers are intercropping with grain legumes. What needs to be asked is whether they are improving the soil fertility with the grain legumes to such a degree that they do not need as much or even any chemical fertilizer. Intuitively, it would seem that the extensive in tercropping of grain legumes over the years would have increased soil fertility to such a level th at two things would be occurring simultaneously: maize yields would be increasing as the need for chemical fertiliz er decresed. Because that is not happening, we need to inve stigate the reasons why. As argued by Gladwin, Peterson, and Uttaro (2002), most Zomba farmers either lack knowledge of trees and shrubs that might improve their soil or being aware of their imputed benefits, fully understand the management of th em. Large amounts of time, effort, and money have been invested in discovering ways to impr ove Malawis soil fertil ity with green manures and other new soil improvement technologies (SIT). Over time, research on organic soil amendments should disseminate out to farmer s throughout Malawi and it is hoped will slow down and eventually reverse Malawis rate of declini ng soil fertility.

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119 Figure 4-1: Decision tree for using chemical fertilizer

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120 There are reasons to be concerned that even if the research is disseminated throughout the country, it may not have as great an effect as in itially hoped. One of se veral factors is farmer practice and management of green manures that, in spite of research efforts, will mean a future where the majority of farmers in Malawi continue to experience declining soil fertility and increasing food insecurity. It is vital to unde rstand what green manure is planted, why it is planted, and how it is managed and used in the ga rden. In turn, this information is key in determining whether chemical fertilizer remains a necessary input for adequate yields. If the green manure is used according to the protocols of the research, the need for chemical fertilizer should be greatly diminished, if not eliminated. Conversely, any devia tion from the protocols that lessen its effect shoul d correspond to a need for some chemical fertilizer. Every farmer interviewed was intercropping the maize garden with crops such as pumpkin, pigeon pea, cowpea, and groundnuts. Gr ain legumes are the most prominent with pigeon pea ubiquitous throughout the Zomba Rural Developmen t Project (RDP) and all 60 farmers in my survey had it in their garden. A smaller yet substantial number (28 or 47%) planted mucuna. Although both mucuna and pigeon pea offer great potential as a green manure, the farmers are not treating them as such. The im portant question from a soil fertility perspective is how the farmer views a grain legume because th at is going to determine how it is managed and ultimately whether it addresses soil fertility. Research has shown mucuna and pigeon pea it to be beneficial intercrops and a significant number of surveyed farmers believe eac h is beneficial for their soil (Table 4-1 and Table 4-2).43 However, according to agronomic re search and personal interviews with 43 According to well documented research substantiated in fi eld trials, pigeon pea grown as an intercrop with maize, improves the soil by dropping leaves as it matures. Additionally, its deep roots draw up minerals that have leeched

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121 agronomists for either to add the greatest amount of nitrogen significantly benefiting soil fertility, the plants need to be turned under and incorporated in to the soil before the pods and seeds form and mature a practi ce not a single informant in the survey engages in. Timing, in this regard, is essential. After seed formation and the growing period, th e plant virtually stops nitrogen fixation and transportation, concentratin g nitrogen in the seeds while significantly reducing the amount of nitrogen in the leaves (Sarrantino, 1998).44 The farmers in the Zomba RDP are intercr opping primarily for food and not for soil improvement; a reasonable, rational and understa ndable purpose. It is unlikely under current circumstances that organic green manures will become a viable alternative to using chemical fertilizer. Food insecurity, hunger and risk aversi on all intervene. This is because small land holdings combined with lower yields due to declining fertility places food as the first priority. Of all farmers, 95% rank pigeon pea as a food cr op first (Table 4-1). The second priority is to sell the pea. Trailing far behind was to impr ove the soil and of the 3% who ranked soil improvement as a first priority, not one turned the leaves under before seed formation. Even these respondents said that they lik e to eat and sell pigeon pea. far beyond the reach of the root s of grain crops such as mai ze. Pigeon pea transports these minerals back to the surface making them available for shallow rooted crops. 44 Legumes are nitrogen fixing but that does not mean the legume is distributing nitrogen throughout the immediate soil vicinity. Sarrantino explains it quite clearly and I quote at length While it is tempting to think of legume nodules as little fertilizer factories pumping N into the su rrounding soil, that isn't what happens. The fixed N is almost immediately shunted up into the stems and leaves of the growing legume to form proteins, chlorophyll and other N-containing compounds. The fixed nitrogen will not become available to the next crop until the legume decomposes. Consequently, if the aboveground part of the legume is removed for animal fodder, the majority of the fixed nitrogen also leaves the field. What about the legu me roots? Under conditions favoring optimal N fixation, a good rule of thumb is to think of the nitrogen left in the plant roots (15 to 30 percent of plant N) as being roughly equivalent to the amount the legume removed directly from the soil, and the amount in the stems and leaves as being equivalent to what was fixed. Annual legumes that are allowed to flower and matu re will transport a large portion of their biomass nitrogen into the seeds or beans. Also, once the legume has stopped actively growing, it will shut down the N-fixing symbiosis. In annual legumes this occurs at the time of flowering; no additional N gain will occur after that point. Unless you want a legume to reseed itself, it's generally a good idea to kill a legume cover crop in the earlyto midblossom stage. You'll have obtained maximum legume N and need not delay planting of the following cash crop any further, aside from any period you may want for residue decomposition as part of your seedbed preparation.

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122 This should come as no surprise because pigeon pea is almost never used as a green manure crop (i.e., turned over before maturity). Other characterist ics of pigeon pea, such as its slow initial growth and temporal complementarity with maize make it an ideal intercrop to grow for seed. Additionally, the plant resembles more of a small tree than a lower growing green manure that would be easier to incorporate. One would not expect any surv ey informants to turn pigeon pea under while green. That being said, by treating pigeon pea as a food/cash crop, farmers ar e removing most of the nitrogen that could boost soil fertility. The nitrogen is in the seedpod, and any senescing leaves that are brown contain mu ch less nitrogen. Unless the farmer returns to the field and incorporates the dry leaves in to the soil, they remain on th e soil surface th roughout the dry season. 45 Table 4-1: Farmers ranking of r easons for planting pigeon pea N=60 Believe pigeon pea improves soil Plant pigeon pea Priorities Eat Sell Improve soil 1st 2nd 3rd1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd Total 48 6057301416 2 934 Percent 80 100955026810 3 1557 Mucuna, on the other hand, is a legume speci es better suited for green manuring and therefore, how the farmers view it will be more revealing as to the prospects of promising research. Mucuna is not as popular as pigeon pea. Those who di d not grow it cited its tendency to take up too much room and that it creeps as the main reasons for not planting it. These 45 What legume is grown also matters. For instance, not one of the farmers in my survey who planted groundnuts returned the leaves to the field. The nuts were separated from the plant and the leaves were used as fodder, either for their goats or for their neighbors. Interestingly, the farmers surveyed said that they knew the leaves would benefit the soil however chose not to return them to the fiel d but use as fodder for goats. I offer this as an example of the disconnect between what the farmers believe and the actual practice they engage in. Even if turning the still green leaves into the soil after harvest only slightly benefits the soil, farmers in this survey were choosing not to do so, whether with groundnuts or pigeon pea.

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123 farmers feel mucuna is not an easy plant to manage and threatens any maize in the immediate vicinity. Even so, 77 percent of all farmers believe mucuna improves the soil (Table 4-2). Slightly less than half of those interviewed (47 percent) planted mu cuna, feeling that the benefits of mucuna outweighed the negatives. Nevertheless, soil ferti lity is not the primary reason why they plant it. It is not even the s econd reason. Like pigeon pea, 82 percent of the farmers who planted mucuna, planted it as a f ood crop first. To sell was ranked second by 18 percent and only one gave soil improvement first pr iority. Interestingly, wh en asked if he liked to eat or sell the beans he said yes. Table 4-2: Farmers ranking of reasons for planting mucuna N=60 Believe macuna improves soil Plant macuna Priorities Eat Sell Improve soil 1st 2nd 3rd1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd Total 46 2823505165 1 619 Percent 77 4782180185718 4 2168 The same practices emerge with mucuna as with pigeon pea. When asked if they incorporate the leaves into the soil while sti ll green and before the seed pod forms, not one farmer answered yes. Mucuna is grown for seed and as such, it is treated as primarily a food crop. Farmers are removing the seeds form the fiel ds leaving the dry leaves on the soil surface. Research has shown that leaf residue adds nutri ents as well as biomass to the soil. The question is whether it is enough to compensate for the nutrient s taken up by the following maize crop. Does the leaf residue create a net gain of nitrogen in soil fertility? Or is the outcome less optimal by simply restoring nutrients that w ould occur without legume intercropping? Again, this depends on what the farmer does. How the re sidue is managed determin es its soil fertility benefit. For example, incorporating the dry leav es of pigeon pea by themselves will lead to a small net increase in soil nitrogen (1-2%) in the short term. However, should farmers turn the

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124 leaves into the new ridges with the maize stover, then the stover binds the N, resulting in no nitrogen benefit for the following maize crop (See Sakala, Cadisch & Giller, 2000). Unfortunately, this is a very common practice in Malawi. An even more serious threat is the widespre ad practice of burning to clear fields during the dry season. In this case, any N remaining in the dry leaves is lost in the fire. From a soil fertility standpoint, this practice is devastating. Since land is scarce in southern Malawi, gardens tend to border each other. When burning takes pl ace the fire usually spreads to other farmers gardens thus denying them of any benefits from the leaf residue. It is risky to assume that intercropping mai ze with a grain legume will eventually lead to a greater soil fertility reducing the need for fer tilizer. Under sowing dry leaves with the stover and/or clearing the land with fire are two very common practices that se riously jeopardizes the benefits obtained from growing pigeon pea as a food crop. Even the assumption that dry leaves add biomass to the soil is highly questionable in fi elds cleared with fire. If farmers choose to plant a green manure as a food source, it will be managed in a way that truncates its imputed potenti ality. Moreover, what farmers do after harvesting the seed will further effect soil fertility and that in turn dictates whether chemi cal fertilizer is needed and how much. These practices directly influence the length of a households hunger season. Planting legumes for food addresses an immediate con cern while planting a legume as a green manure addresses a more distant concern, ev en if it is as near as next ye ars harvest. Prolonging hunger is not an option. In light of these challenges, the need for chemical fertilizer remains high in Malawi. Of the 60 informants, 57 believe chemical fertilizer as indispensable for improved yields, whether they are currently using it or not. Without it, they feel they are invi ting hunger. Of all 60

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125 informants in the Zomba RDP, 54 (84%) believed they must use chemical fertilizer in order avoid hunger, regardless of any problems they identify with it. The Decision to Use Small Bags of Fertilizer Clearly, chemical fertilizer is highly desired by farmers in Zomba RDP. However, only a few farmers are able to purchase the amount of chemical fertilizer they think is necessary for optimal yields. The steep rise in the price of chemical fertilizer is attributed to the removal of fertilizer subsidies and even more so, the devalu ation of the kwacha over the last five years. More and more farmers are finding that the cost of a 50 kg bag of chemical fertilizer is simply out of their reach. Asked if even a little fertilizer was better than no fertilizer at all, it was not surprising that every informant answered yes. The next best scenario then would be obtaining less than adequate amounts of fertilizer. One innovation that was being introduced at the time in some parts of Malawi is repackaging fertilizer in smaller quantities than 50 kg bags. For ex ample, in Dowa, in the central region of Malawi, VEZA/HODEZA o ffers fertilizer in smaller than 50 kg bags. Small bags of fertilizer, it was hoped, would pr ovide some fertilizer to poor farmers whose purchasing power had been drastically eroded. Farmers who do not have the cash for a 50 kg bag might purchase a smaller quantity of fertili zer that they could afford (Darcy, 1998; Uttaro; 1998).46 Moreover, it is anticipated that the use of small bags of fe rtilizer by FHHs would be one way to improve food production on their very sma ll landholdings. Cash was the main constraint stated by all farmers who do not apply any ferti lizer or manure on their maize (n = 18). But when asked if they had the cash for at least a sm all bag of fertilizer, although eight farmers said 46 The potential of even small quantities of fertilizer on yields was substantiated with the Starter Pack program begun in 1998. The package entailed giving 10 kgs of fertilizer along with hybrid seed enough for 0.1 ha and pulses to every household. The harvest was a near record and many attributed this to the program.

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126 yes (44%) the result is less enc ouraging for FHH. At issue is whether poorer FHHs would be able to afford even a small bag of fertilizer. Table 43 show s that seven out of 10 FHHs not using fertilizer or manure now say they would al so not be able to afford a small bag of fertilizer.47 Table 4-3: Farmers not using fertilize r likely to have cash for small bags Yes No All N=18 810 Male N=4 22 Married female N=4 22 Female headed hslds N=10 37 The second concern hoped to address matters of weight and transport, particularly important for FHH. Transporting fertilizer is a f actor in its use and smaller bags would be easier to carry, not only from th e store or club, but also to the field (Gladwin, et al ., 2001). It was argued that lighter weights would not only be an incentive to buy the sma ller bags of fertilizer but for some farmers whose health is deteriora ting and in Malawi, there are many farmers in poor health it may be one of the more importa nt ones. However, the problem of FHHs not having available cash for small bags lessens the saliency of the benefit of smaller weight for them. Other issues surface in the model of the decisi on to use small bags of fertilizer, seen in figure 4-2, which lists reasons why almost all (59 of 60) informants choose not to use small bags of fertilizer. Only one informant is able to con tinue to stage-2 criteria, for brevity not presented here (Uttaro, 1998). Criteria in figure 2 say that farmers will switch to smaller bags of fertilizer if they need more than a 50 kg bag for their cr ops and cannot afford to buy another one (criteria 1,3) or they need less than 50 kg and cannot a fford to buy even one 50-kg bag (criteria 2). 47These results are replicated by DArcy in Dowa, central Malawi. See DArcy 1998.

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127 Another (and this is true for the majority) is no t able to share or split a 50 kg bag with someone (criterion 5). Surprisingly, a large percentage of farmers (70 percent) responded positively when asked if they can share the cost of a 50 kg bag of fertili zer with family, friends, or neighbors. Indeed, if this is the case, then the abil ity to share a 50 kg bag is a sign ificant factor limiting the demand and use of smaller bags, which are more expensive per kilogram of fertilizer received. However, the way the criterion was phrased might have be en misleading. To ask "Are you able to share the cost?" is not the same as asking "Do you sh are the cost of a bag?" The phrasing of the question is unclear such that responses are ambiguous. Therefore, with this data there simply is not enough support to conc lude that farmers are indeed sharing the cost of 50-kg bags of fer tilizer with family and neighbors. Out of 60 informants, only five (8%) specifically mentioned that they either received fertilizer from a family member or gave some to a family member Only one informant said she was sharing the cost of a bag with a neighbor. Ot her data seems to speak against cu rrent sharing. Within the last three years, fourteen farmers (23%) who had used fertilizer stopped due to its high cost. Not one of these informants is now receiving fertilizer from a family member, friend, or neighbor; yet 11 of the 14 said they could share the cost of a bag with someone. Farmers obtaining fertilizer repackaged in a small bag does not currently look promising. There are two obstacles one seri ous inhibiting the use of small bags. First, the less serious obstacle is availability. During the 1996/97, growing season finding small bags of fertilizer in the Zomba RDP was difficult. In fact, they we re almost non-existent. There was, however, a noticeable increase in availability of small bags in the 1997/98 season in major market centers such as Mayaka, Jali, and urban centers of Blan tyre, Lilongwe and Zomba. Managers in other

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128 Figure 4-2: Decision to use small bags of fertilizer

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129 market centers informed me that they expected to have smaller bags of fertilizer arriving before planting season. In smaller trading centers a nd other rural centers, small bags remained unavailable. Nevertheless, fertilizer in small bags was appearing in places where they were absent the year before. With more small bags available, it would seem that farmers who believe a little fertilizer is better than none at all, w ould buy them. However, in 1998, in those markets where small bags of fertilizer were available, they were not selling. A much greater obstacle to obtaining fertilizer in small bags is the higher price per kg of the sm aller bags. Researching this phenomena, additional explanations offered by farmers were discovered including the persistent lack of money, cost of small bags, transp ort costs incurred traveling to a market center to buy a small bag and that smaller bags had a the higher cost per kg. If there was no economic justification for using fertilizer on maize at the price of a 50 kg bag, it was an even more compelling reason not to use it in a 5 10 or 25 kg bag.48 These last two reasons introduced additional constraints in the decision to use small bags of fertilizer that were unfortunately not included in the decision tree and unforeseen by policy planners when repa ckaging fertilizer in small bags was being developed. In sum, it seems unlikely that small bags of fertilizer will contribute to any lessening of food shortages at the household level, at least no t until small bags become more available and the price per kg becomes more reasonable. In the interim, more research needs to be done on increasing access to small quantities of fertilizer.49 Even if small bags of fertilizer become 48 In July, 1998 the cost per kg for 23-21-0 + 4S in a 50 kg bag was MK15. Packaged in a 5 kg bag the price was MK 25 per kg or a 66% premium. The premium was justif ied due to packaging and the ever-offered transport costs although it is hard to see how. Two 25 kg bags take up as much room on a truck as one 50 kg bag. Other factors such as material and labor should result in only a slight increase. 49 I conducted a short duration experiment around Malosa in July 1998 where I sold fertilizer by the kg in rural trading centers. I wanted to see if fa rmers would purchase fertilizer by what th ey could afford rather than at a set

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130 available, this research sugge sts that household incomes need to increase for a significant proportion of these farmers to afford even the small bags. It also appears unlikely that sharing a 50 kg bag is a solution, at least at the moment. They may be constrained by lack of trust betw een neighbors and friends who would be expected to share 50-kg bags, as social cap ital, ravaged during the later half of the Banda years, has further declined in the post-structural adjustment era. The Decision to Pl ant Hybrid Maize One of the most important decisions farmers have to make is whether to plant hybrid maize versus local maize, or both. Hybrid maize is well received by farmers because it addresses both food security and cash needs of the househol d economy. It addresses food security in two highly significant ways: higher yields and early maturation. Cons iderably higher yields come with a cost, as expensive inorgani c fertilizer has to be applied. In some situations, due to soil and climatic conditions, hybrid yields may not be any larger than local maize particularly if unfertilized. Around Nsanje, for example, in the lo wer Shire Valley, fertilizer is not used. In a nationwide survey carried out in 1997/98, a random sample of fifty farmers in twelve villages in the lower Shire showed that not one responde nt used inorganic fertilizer. The reason consistently stated is the soil s natural fertility is due to th e almost annual flooding when the Shire River overflows its banks leaving behind nutrie nt rich silt. It is the rivers parting gift, compensation for causing harm and ruin to so many homes. amount. The price per kg was 33% higher than the price per kg in a 50 kg bag in order to cover costs and provide a slight profit. The response was extraordinary and by the second week, people were waiting for the mzungu to arrive with fertilizer. What made it even more encouraging was that the experiment was taking place during the height of the dry season with at least 4 months before the beginning of the planting season. It also was extremely encouraging that many of the customers were women. The down side was that the experiment, as such, lasted only three weeks and farmers were begging us to keep coming particularly as the planting season approached.

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131 The soils in the Zomba RDP are not revitalized as in the Lower Shire. The soils of the farmers surveyed require amendments to boost yields adequately. As the discussion above regarding the decision to use inorganic fertilizer shows, the farmer s in this survey feel that inorganic fertilizer is vital to averting th e hungry season. When asked the question Does your soil need chemical fertilizer for good yields? 94% of male farmers, 91% of Married women farmers and 100% of Female Headed Households replied in the affirmative. The relationship between fertilizer use and hybrid yields is also convincing. Asked to choose between animal manure and chemical fertilizer, fertilizer was ove rwhelmingly preferred for higher yields (Table 4-4). Early maturity is the othe r attribute that makes hybrid mai ze preferable over local maize. Malawis rainfall has been erratic during the last decade and climatic change has affected the timing and duration of the rainy season. A rai ny season ending prematurely causes local maize to dry up in the fields before ears have form ed spelling doom to a family relying on it. Smallholder farmers cannot risk the household food supply on local maize just because they prefer its taste, or pounds better or even stores better. An overwhelming majority of farmers view the earlier maturing hybrid as an important defense against hunger. Hybrid maize, with all its constraints, is one of the best strategies to employ in or der to greatly minimize the risk associated with local maize. Even in the fert ile lower Shire, hybrid is overwhelmingly desired for this reason. Table 4-4: Farmers choice between manure and ch emical fertilizer for best hybrid yields Animal manure Chemical fertilizer Both Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent All (N= 60) 3543903 5 Male (N=16) 1614881 6 Married female (N=23) 1411960 0 Female head hlds (N=21) 1518852 10

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132 The decision tree shows a complex web of fact ors that lead farmers to choose one of two outcomes, [Plant hybrid maize] or [Plant local maize] (Figure 43). Access and av ailability of inorganic fertilizer is one of seve ral pivotal factors influencing that choice. The others that carry much weight with farmers are access to seed and fear of crop loss with local maize. Criteria and constraints identified by responde nts came from four varieties of hybrid maize: MH 17 and18 and NSCM 41and 51. Of the 29 farmers who planted hybrid in 1996/97, only seven planted NSCM 41, the rest plan ted either MH-17 or MH-18. At the time of this research, other varietie s of semi-flints were introduced that addressed some of the constraints identified by farmers. It is possible the new semi flin ts were known but not available in the stores. It is also possi ble that knowledge of these new va rieties was very limited at the time. As these new varieties become known, some of the constr aints they were developed to address such as storage difficulties will disappear. Other constraints, such as price of seed, are less likely to change. At the top of the tree in Figure 4-3 are crit eria asking whether hybrid maize tastes better than local (criterion 1), pounds be tter (criterion 2) and/or yields better (criterion 3). Eighteen percent of all informants believe hybrid maize ta stes better than local maize and of those 91 percent prefer local because it pounds better. Although 86 percent believe hybrid has higher yields and 74 percent believe it is easier to sell than local ma ize (criterion 5), hybrid does not store well (criterion 4) t he greatest constraint to planting hybrid maize at this point of the decision tree. Of those who believed hybrid has be tter yields, 93 percent stated that it does not store as well as local. (One informant lost her entire hybrid harvest to weevils the year before.) All other things being equal, th e storage constraint alone would account for a large number of farmers not planting hybrid.

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133 Figure 4-3: Decision to plant hybrid maize

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134 Nevertheless, farmers who plant hybrid maize do so for two good reasons. The first is to sell it for income. Seventy-four percent believe hybrid is easier to sell than local. Hybrids earlier maturity and greater yiel ds provide the family with a we lcome opportunity to gain access to cash. The second reason is to shorten the hungry season. Both are compellingly sound reasons to grow hybrid maize. The problem that surrounds the income decision is as much a result of the disadvantaged situation farmers are in as it is with hybrids storage problem. Because farmers believe that hybrid does not store well and due to their usually cash strapped circumstances, they tend to supply the market at the same time, depressing prices in the proce ss. The little cas h they receive cannot, under the price ratio at th e time, pay for production cost of fertilized hybrid and is far less than what they will be paying for maize during the hunger season. This is an ongoing scenario repeated every year re presenting another diminishing c hoice to poor households in need of an immediate influx of cash. Other criteria further down th e tree appear to support farm ers preferences for local maize. The belief that hybrid uses too much fe rtilizer to be worth growing is supported by an overwhelming 93% of respondents (criterion 8). This is evidence of a strong association between hybrid and fertilizer. Sin ce the price of fertilizer is keeping people from applying it, this constraint sounds the death knell for planting hybrid maize. Howe ver, the negatives associated with hybrid maize are far outweighed by one negative fact concerning local maize: local maize takes too long to mature. When asked if local maize is therefore too risky to grow, 96% farmers agreed strong evidence that the risk associated with local maize is too high to plant only local maize. Even if it needs fertilizer, planting hybrid offers a strategy to farmers to mitigate the risks associated with local maize and its longer growing season.

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135 Hybrid maize seed was developed and mark eted for exactly that reason. Its early maturity and greater yields means that farmers, particularly those with small land holdings, are able to improve household food security. The bene fits of increased yields come with a price, however, and that price is fertilizer. The high price of fertilizer is not the only constraint to pl anting hybrid. The price of hybrid seed also represents a serious constraint to farmers. As the tree shows, farmers prefer hybrid even after saying it uses too much fertilizer to be worth growing due to the risks associated with growing only local maize. The pr ice of the seed, however, is a constraint to 55% of the respondents (criterion 9) but represents less of a constr aint to male farmers (66% can afford the seed) whereas 55% of FHH and 72% of married women cannot. There is, however, an alternative and that is to plant recycled seed (criterion 11) but only 25% have the opportunity; the others have no choice but to plant only local ma ize, assuming all the inherent risks. Again women farmers, whether in FHH (73%) or in male headed households (8 1%), are less likely to have access to even recycled se eds than male farmers (60%). In the end, 53% are able to afford fertilizer for hybrid (criterion 12). For the others who cannot afford fertilizer, 69% will plant hybrid unfe rtilized (criterion 13) ra ther than plant just local, clearly demonstrating their fear of the risks to their house holds if they do not plant some hybrid maize. From a gender perspective, it is clear that women in FHH and in male-headed households are feeling the constraints of fertilizer and seed prices more than male. Up until reaching these two constraints, all three sub-groups show little difference in preferen ces and beliefs. The separation begins at having cash for seed and cont inues to separate on these lines on down. In

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136 the end, 69% of male farmers were able to pl ant hybrid maize but only 39% married women and 43% of FHH could. The decision tree tells only part of the stor y. Even as hybrid mai ze greatly reduces the risks of a long hungry season, fewer hectares were being planted with hybrid and more planted with local (Table 4-5). According to farmer responses in the quest ionnaire, 19% fewer farmers planted hybrid maize in 1996/97 than the previous year with the largest percentage drop occurring with FHH. Thirty four percent of those who planted hybrid in 1996/97 did not use fertilizer compared to 30% in the previous year. Overall, 1996/97 saw a drop of 11% of farmers planting fertilized hybrid compared to the previous year (Table 46). Breaking it down further, 29% of FHH, 38% of male farmers and 30% of married women used fertilizer on their hyb rid in 1996/97 compared to 43% FHH, 50% male and 39% married women the year before. With the price of seed a major constraint to farmers, it would not make sense to spend scarce cash on hybrid seed and then not fertilize it particularly when, unfertilized, the yield of hybr id is not much different than that of local. These numbers contrast with earlier research that found th e acceptance of hybrid maize among smallholder farmers, particularly wome n, as problematic (A rizo-Nino, 1991). The percentage of farmers growing hybrid maize prior to 1996/97 contradicts any notion of acceptance as being problematic. Farmers in the Zo mba RDP were fully aware of the benefits of Table 4-5: Number and percent of farmers planted hybrid maize 1995/96 Percent 1996/97 Percent Percent change All N= 60 40672948 -19 Male N=16 13811169 -12 Married female N=23 1252939 -13 Female headed hslds N=21 1571943 -28

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137 hybrid maize in spite of personal preferences towards local maize such as taste, pounding, and even the critical shortcomings related to hybrids notorious stor age problems. Evidently, these preferences pale in comparison to the early maturitybenefits and higher yields of hybrid. Again, the issue of food security insinua tes itself in farmers preferences as hybrid is seen by them as critical for addressing it. The decline in planting hybrid is bette r explained by the increased costs of seed and fertilizer than any other factor. Table 4-6: Change in percentage of fa rmers who planted fertilized hybrid maize 1995/96 1996/97 Percent change All N=60 43 32 -11 Male N=16 50 38 -12 Married female N=23 39 30 -9 Female headed hslds N=21 43 29 -14 One explanation might be in the fact that under certain climatic and soil conditions, unfertilized hybrid will still have a better response than local maize. Sin ce this research took place in the Zomba RDP it is likely that the variati ons in climate conditions were not that great. Regarding variations in soil conditions, that unfor tunately remains a question that this research was not capable of determining. It is possible that some farmers, who did not fertilize their hybrid, have better soil conditions. However, relying on data provided by farmers and mentioned above, it seems safe to assume variat ions in soil conditions is not that wide. Considering that this group of respondents overwhe lmingly felt that their soil needed fertilizer, planting unfertilized hybrid would seem to be a waste of scarce money, unless the risks of planting only local are also considered. Viewed in that manner, plan ting unfertilized hybrid maize makes sense, even though it means lower yields. While the number of farmers planting unfertil ized hybrid is increasing for risk aversion, for those farmers applying fertiliz er to hybrid, the amount of fertil izer is decreasing significantly. Male and married female farmers report a dr op of 40 and 45 percent respectively while FHH

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138 report using 56 percent less fertil izer on hybrid. However, this may be somewhat misleading without knowing the area planted with hybrid mai ze. Table 4-7 provides a much better picture by also showing that the area planted with hybrid also significantly declined. Table 4-7: Change in amount of fertilizer applied and hectares of hybrid, 1995/96-1996/97 Fertilizer applied Area planted 1995/961996/97Percent change 1995/961996/97 Percent change Male N=11 755450-4076 -16 Married female N=9 1350740-45118.5 -23 Female headed hslds N=9 1202680-5794 -56 The most dramatic decrease is with FHH. In th e course of one year, amount of fertilizer applied and the total area of hybrid maize planted by F HH in the Zomba RDP decreased by 57 percent while male and married female farmers showed le ss dramatic decrease with a decline of 16% and 23% respectively. Table 4-7 confirms that the most vulnerable of households, FHH, are feeling the pain of lack of fertilizer the most. Even as their applic ation rate is higher, FHHs are planting much less hybrid, which exposes them to much greater food security risks. The table also confirms the privileged position of male farmers as to cash cr opping. Since hybrid is also a cash crop in that farmers will often sell it for needed cash (early maturity brings it to market sooner) the table illustrates the gender divide in regards to decisions concerning cash crops. Conclusion The focus of this chapter was to analyze the criteria and constraints farmers use in making decisions that have a direct beari ng upon household food securi ty. With a gendered perspective, it makes the invisible woman visible, shedding light on those f actors that affect her and her familys situation either positively or ne gatively. The series of figures in this chapter show women farmers, whether as FHH or with in male-headed households, as well as men use

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139 decision processes to minimize the risks associat ed with local maize while trying to gain the benefits of hybrid maize in a la rger environment of escalating fe rtilizer and seed prices. Because other variables (e.g., weather, labor pu t into the gardens, pest attacks, etc) significantly affect yields, it is impossible to draw any solid conc lusions about how the decisions made by the informants affected their yields. What can be said is that women farmers are making as complicated a set of decisions as men decisions that directly affect their household food security. It also can be said that marital status of a woman does make a difference in terms of choices. As a group, married women are more likel y to have access to some fertilizer than a FHH by a margin of 62% vs 45%. The variation between male farmers and married females is slight with 67% of male farmers able to afford some fertilizer. Moreover, even if the percentage of farmers that are able to pay for all the fertiliz er they need is small (9%), marital status is a factor. No FHH was able to obtain all the fertilizer needed. Another conclusion that can be drawn from the research is that the farmers in the Zomba RDP want fertilizer and in an overwhelming numbe r. They have seen what results from not using fertilizer and fear that without it, they and their families will face hunger. Since 91% of farmers cannot acquire the amount they need, then the next best choice woul d be to acquire some amount of fertilizer. This research, however, also examines the potential impact of small bags of fertilizer, if they were to be freely available in local shops and markets. Results here describe why almost no one buys them now while they al so suggest that FHHs, who would benefit the most from their introduction, would probably not have the cash to buy th em. Once again, gender and marital status make a difference. FHH are much less likely to obtain even smaller quantities of fertilizer, with either cash or credit, than married females or males. The bottom line is that

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140 55% of FHH did not use any fertilizer on their crops compared to 38% of married females and 33% of male farmers. The promise of using green manures to supplement or replace the need for inorganic fertilizer is unlikely. Survey respondents are not intercropping with le gumes as green manures but with legumes as food and income crops. In this statistical sa mple, it is universal. Moreover, farmer practices of under sowing the dry leaves with the maize stover or clearing fields with fire are greatly reducing any benefits from planting the legumes. The decision tree model to plant hybrid maize shows that it is a complicated, multidimensional decision process involving farmer minimiza tion of the risk of a short rainy season, providing an earlier source for income, and shortening the hungry season by yielding more and maturing earlier. These factors, however, need to be seen in re lation to the risk-taking that planting local maize assumes. Planting local mai ze places the household at much greater risk in terms of food production. However, it requires lit tle if any inputs and th is saves the household money. Is it a trade off? Lower yields a nd no cash means the hungry season will start earlier and hurt much more. However, as this research shows, the advantages offered by hybrid maize are increasingly becoming meaningless for more farmers due to two constraints: the unaffordability of fertilizer and the un-affordability of seed. There is nothing new here and this evidence only corroborates earlier research (See Peters, 1996b) Further, it clearly shows the linkage between fertilizer use and plan ting hybrid maize is strong; but due to the multi-dimensionality of the decision, it alone does not explain why farmers prefer to plant hybrid maize. Interestingly, every farmer who had some cash or grant for fertilizer grew hybrid maize; but a significant proportion of farmers (47%) said even if they

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141 could not afford fertilizer for hybrid, they woul d plant hybrid maize, if they could afford the seed. None of these developments bode well for Mala wi. The upshot of all this is evident in the tragedy the people of Malawi faced in 2002. The harvest of 2002 was di smal with a shortfall estimated to be around 600,000 metric tons. Malawi had to import that amount to stave off the starvation seven million people faced as their ma ize ran out. Although much of the suffering was blamed on flooding followed by drought that is mi sleading. It is true that the rainfall season was sporadic and there were floods in parts of the country. However, the drought had a much greater affect on the local maize, which more Ma lawians planted, because of its longer maturity. The Ministry of Agriculture discounted the aff ect of the weather, pointing instead to the restructuring of agricultural markets. The weather part is very small, because the floods and dry spells were localized, says Ellard Malindi, Malawi's secretary for agri culture and irrigation. "Most of it was due to the lack of inputs [of fertilizer and seeds] Corn production during that period, from 1998 to 2001, fell to 1.4 million metric tons from 2.4 million (Christian Science Monitor, Itano, 2002). In other words, over the three-year period, Ma lawi corn production dropped by a staggering 42 percent. Observing that the farmers in the Zo mba region reduced their fertilizer application by 44% and the amount of land devoted to hybrid by 32 %, the numbers closely parallel Malawis maize shortfall referred to in the Consid ering that economic condi tions are consistent throughout the Malawi, it is reas onable to assume that a substantial number of farmers are making the same decisions. The fact that farmers are planting less hybrid and more local maize has serious repercussions for food security, at both th e national and household levels. In 2002, the consequences were devastating. For farmers who do not grow a cash crop such as tobacco, it is a particularly salient issue that indicates the deteriorating economic conditions at the village level

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142 revolves around lack of fertili zer. For many households, part icularly FHHs, structural adjustment policies have caused so many Malawi ans to take desperate measures because of diminishing choices. 50 This is not what people had in mind when th e democratic bargain was struck. Instead, the promise of democracy was a promise to improve lives, not diminish them. As life became increasingly more difficult and food scarce, one had to wonder how it wo uld play out in the coming election in 1999. With government failing to respond to the needs of the people, the next chapter explores the affect of these developments on the peoples perceptions of democracy and in particular, their faith in the transformative power of democracy. 50 Pauline Peters, conducting research in the Zomba area, f ound 47% of the sample growing hybrid to be the lowest percentage since 1990/91. The reasons given were high co st of seed and fertilizer. See Maize, Food and Tobacco in Zomba: Situation Report, 1996 by Pauline Peters, Ha rvard Institute for International Development, August, 1996.

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143 CHAPTER 5 A MATERIAL VIEW OF DEMOCRACY: DATA Faith is rarely given without the exp ectation of some sense of reciprocity. Whether placed in a person, a god, an institution, or a political system, faith expects something in return. For a country like Malawi emerging from thirty years of very repr essive authoritarian government and where poverty is broad and deep, adopting democracy came with a promise of a better life. Faith is belief and people in Mala wi believe in democracy (Khailia & Chibwana, 2005; Bratton, 2004; Evans & Rose, 2006). It promises a way of limiting the power of those who govern as well as providing them a say in the constructing of policies and legislation that will address their needs. The wave of democr acy arrived with these simple expectations. Expecting democracy to improve ones life is a common underst anding. It is why democracy is considered the best form of governme nt. Even if people differ on the particulars of what precise policies should be adopted or legi slation passed, the essent ial idea is that people expect their interests can find a way into the policymaking realm. With that said, it is also true that even as the fundamental ex pectation of democracy is the oppor tunity to articulate interests into policy, it is also true th at expectations vary based on a number of historical factors, development of political institutions and the level of social and economic development over time. It is safe to assume that in a country regarded as highly impove rished expectations of democratic governance cluster significantly around improving socio economic conditions. Democracy, especially a new one, is expect ed to respond to those challenges. In contrast, wealthy democracies have for the most part met and solved the socio economic challenges long ago. Although poverty exists even in the wealthiest ones, it is only in pockets and not the defining condition. Indeed, most citizens of post-industrial democratic

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144 democracies have vastly different expectations of government. In these societies, government responsiveness clusters around a myriad of very particularistic interests. Without a doubt then, comparing two countri es on opposite ends of the socioeconomic index would reveal very differe nt beliefs and values regardin g government responsibility and purpose. With such widely different views exis ting between developed a nd developing societies, what people want from their government would be revealed in the implemented programs and policies (Inglehart & Welzel, 2005 ). For instance, having solved the basic bread-and-butter problems, developed societies see government in a much different manner. In these societies, expectations of government can range from the very personal and specific to playing a nonintrusive roles and perform basic, minimal responsib ilities. This evolution and transformation of state/society relations and exp ectations was recognized by Rostow in 1960. He celebrated the post-WWII era as a time when the US and other industrialized countries were entering the highest stage of mass consumption and social welfar e. However, to soar at such heights, the plane had to go through stages of economic development where it was implied that the more fundamental challenges of development were ove rcome. Others went further claiming that achieving the highest stage of development the post-modern era placed new demands on government with very different expectati ons regarding public policy (Fukuyama, 1992; Inglehart, 1990). Rostows metaphorical plane, wh ere post-industrial societies fly high in the stratosphere of mass consumption and social welfare, also re veals the stark contrast between the developed and developing world and the distance between th em (Rostow, 1960). In the case of Malawi, it is easy to imagine the plane not only in still in the hangar but that so meone also stole the tires. It

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145 is difficult to see how Malawi can even taxi to Rostows runway let alone take off in her current situation. Yet the expectations for Malawi by the West ern post-industrial democracies and their multilateral institutions are as high as their planes To draw the idea out further, for someone in a post-industrial Western society, democracys multip le meanings/expectations are reflected in a myriad of varied interests su ch as self-improvement, expande d individual rights and personal values and beliefs to name a few. In affluent post-modern societies, democratic government responds to expectations in ways that both reinfo rces and reassures the fa ithful that democracy works. For rural Malawians, economic well-bei ng is the primary concern. The argument made here is that in Malawi, where poverty is deeply rooted and widespread, democracy has a very different meaning to people. Compared to othe r more developed and consolidated democracies expectations are much more ba sic and much more challengin g. However, it appears donors expect Malawi to follow the path to developm ent both economic and democratic of Rostows metaphorical plane without the same flight pla n, maintenance schedule, or trained pilots. Indeed, there is more to this but in esse nce, the path to economic development the wealthy countries followed is not the same as the one they are pushing on Malawi as well as the rest of the developing world. If these new mode rnizationists want Malawi to follow their path to development then what they are imposing is vastly different from what they espouse. Economist Erik Reinert (2006) argues that rich countries got rich through conscious and deliberate economic policies that did not originate in unrestrai ned international free trade. Policies were adopted that progressively shaped the particular form of economic structure that set them on the path of growth. In todays parlance, that woul d be protectionism and depending on which side of the rich/poor division in the world, that is either a bad or a good thing.

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146 However, rather than this totalizing abstract view of protectionism, it has a much different meaning when initial protection is essential to achieve increa sing returns and to access new technologies (Reinert, 2006: 67). It only becomes counterproductive later on. Of course, Malawi is not near the stage of initial industria lization. She is still heavily dependent on the agricultural se ctor. However, this fact does not automatically dismiss the argument above. Instead, more expansive thinking as well as innovative policies is needed. The people of Malawi, like all people in developing societies, have much more at stake and this fact calls for careful, deliberate and targeted policie s that will do much less harm and much more good. Agriculture is Malawis economic engine; it is vital not for both economic growth and ensuring food security for the nation. Manage d properly, the sector wi ll provide the greatest opportunity for improving the lives of the people. Agricultural policies in Malawi should be crafted to respond positively to th e unique circumstances of Mala wi if economic growth is to occur. A contextualized appr oach to policy, even when r unning counter to orthodox economic ideology, can begin wealth creation improving li ves and starting long-awaited development in the process. The donor community and their multil ateral institutions shou ld approach Malawis development challenges with much greater flexib ility, longer time lines for policies to work and different forms of support. Changing to pol icies designed around Malawis circumstances the donor community could provide the economic growth that in turn could move Malawis democracy towards consolidation. Unfortunately, it is argued that in absence of th is change, democratic consolidation is still a distant dream. This chapter provides data te sting the hypothesis that government failure to respond to expectations of rural Malawians we akens their faith in democracy. Government failure to respond to the material needs of the people is embedded in the larger context

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147 established by the IFIs suggesting that the SAPs have much fart her ranging consequences than simply getting the macroeconomic house in order. In pursuit of trimming government outlays in order to pay back debt and the interest on the debt, the IFIs are making the consolidation of democracy in Malawi very difficult. Even as the defenders of SAPs root their claim for the necessity of such policies in order to transform Malawis eco nomy and begin the process of growth that everyone seeks, they appear to pl ace the political impact of SAPs as secondary. With such an emphasis, both economic and political development outcomes are falling short. A much different view with the primary em phasis on political development and economic adjustment secondary could lead to a better out come for all concerned. Specifically, I contend that policies such as removal of the fertilizer subsidy are not just polit ically questionable and work against democratic consolidation but also do not make sense economically for Malawi. This point will be taken up in the last chapter. Before proposing an alternative policy appro ach, it is necessary to provide sufficient evidence of the failure of the current policy framework in place since 1981. Naturally, a description of Malawis socio-economic context is the place to start. Ther e is a wealth of data from household surveys that help measure the de gree and depth of poverty in Malawi. However, only a few key indicators will be used to illustrate not only that Malawi is a poor country but also that there has been little if any improvement of the situation since the implementation of SAPs. The View from the Ground The relationship between econom ic growth and democracy is a reality for the people in Malawi. Their view of democracy is materialis tic. When democracy came to Malawi, it came loaded with promises directed at precisely th e concerns of the people. From the peoples standpoint, it is because socioeconomic conditions are an everyday and constant reminder of how precarious their lives are that faith is placed on democracys ability to improve lives materially.

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148 These are basic expectations and as such, a power ful reason to focus on them. It follows that Malawians would use this yardstick to measure whether democracy delivered on these promises. If it has not, the reciprocity half of the faith bargain fails, leadi ng to a troubling possibility that Malawians are losing faith in their democracy. Considering the circumstances and general c onditions of most Malawians, it is easy to understand why they would have such a simple but strong view of democracy or any political system. When life is hard and full of insecur ity, the bar for government effectiveness is not raised too high. Even as the politicians were promising the moon and stars, Malawians were much more practical, hoping for a lot less. A story illustrates the point. I was interviewing a woman in a small village outside of Chingali, a trading center on the west side of the Zomba Plateau. I asked her what she expected a new democratic government would mean for her and her family. As she looked up towards Zomba Mountain, she took a breath and then, with only a slight hesitation said, We were hoping for less hunger. As she spoke these words wr apped in disappointment and resignation, they trailed off into a deep sigh. The lines on her face showed the depth of her concern and worry. This woman, whose children were eating gr een mangos at the time because she had no money and could not afford to buy maize, had walked to Zomba on the other side of the mountain two days before to let her MP, Gwanda Chakuamba, know of the situation in her village. She went there because she believed th at he did not know how they were suffering and if he did, something would be done. As she related her story to me, I was thinking that the strength of Malawis democracy resided in this womans hope. She had an expansive concept of democracy beyond just voting as she took shouldere d the interests of her village and took them with her to lobby her MP.

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149 The trip is very difficult and strenuous. The road up the mountain from Chingali is incredibly steep51 and dusty while on the other side of the plateau, the road down to Zomba is less steep but much longer. Because it is so difficu lt, she left early in th e morning, before the sun came up. She put on her best dress and arrived at the Parliament offices that afternoon. At Chakuambas office, his assistant informed he r that her Minister was in Parliament and unavailable to constituents. She explained why she had come and told the assistant that the situation in her village was desperate. Child ren were sick and peopl e were dying from hunger. The assistant told her that Mr. Chakuamba woul d be in the office tomorrow and she should come back then. She was assured that he would do so mething to see that people had food. With that, she went home but not arriving until well into th e evening. Nevertheless, she told me she had great confidence after that, positiv e that she would meet with her MP and her family, and village would have relief. The next day, she went up the mountain a nd down the other side to Zomba and Mr. Chakuambas office. His secretary informed her that her MP, Mr. Chakuamba, had left the day before for Lilongwe and would not be back for a week. She had hoped for a chance to tell her MP of the suffering. She believed that if he only knew, he would see that people had food. She mu st have believed in democracy but she only hoped for less hunger. As I left, I remember wondering what thoughts occupied her mind that evening as she walked that long, steep road back home. Her story shares a common theme. For poor countries, democracy has to deliver the goods. Not everything, no democracy does that, but it has to address the common needs that 51 Just to give some idea, when I would descend towards Chingali, I would put my Landrover into low difflock (basically uses the engine to slow the vehicle) to save burning out the brakes. Even in difflock, one often had to use the brakes to keep from accel erating out of control.

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150 would reduce lifes risks. Malawi ans expectations of democracy are simple and they boil down to mainly two things: 1) showing that life is getting better even if incrementally, and 2) responding to the concerns of people even if limited. Doing this maintains the faith. Alternatively, as economist Davi d Landes puts it Failure hardens the heart and dims the eye (Landes, 1999: 492). As a political scientist, I believe it is essential to understand how policy can either strengthen or weaken democracy. Government policy that responds to peoples needs go a long way in keeping the faith and belief in democracy strong. Such policies give them a stake in the state. Conversely, policies that separate government from people can only damage that belief and faith. Good policy binds people to the state just as bad po licy repels them.52 Even so, it has to be acknowledged that governing and policymaking is complicated, perhaps much more complicated in an economically poor new democracy. Malawi, like most developing countries, is wracked with problems that would challenge any government let alone one where democracy is new and poverty commo n. Malawis poverty torments both her people and the hope of democratic consolidation. The challenges loom large. From all indications up to now, the best th at could be said about Malawis economic structure after adopting SAL reform s is that it has remained unchanged. That is hardly a ringing endorsement of them. Indeed, if after more th an two decades of implementing these reforms, productivity is declining and food insecurity is increasing then the policies have failed in what they were designed to create. Instead, with peopl e moving back to sustaina ble agriculture, it can 52 I admit this might sound like a political aphorism. However, I believe it underlies what those who promote governance distinguish between good and bad governance.

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151 be argued that Malawi is experiencing primitivization not development.53 After all, if there is progress through modernization, then there must al so be retrogression and primitivization. If, as economist Erich Reikert argues, economies do not reach a certain volume or scale, then economic systems may fall back in to modes of production and technol ogies that have been past history for some time (Reinert, 2007: 171). That may be stretching the idea a bit in Malawis case yet the fact that more people are relyi ng on obtaining a subsiste nce level of economic activity captures the idea fairly well. To develop the point further, primitivization occurs in economies when a way of doing an economic activity is no longer profitable becaus e a level or volume of production can no longer be attained. It is a phenomenon characterized by diminishing retu rns (Reinert, 2007: 171). In Malawi, such a phenomenon is occurring with deva stating social consequences. The removal of the fertilizer subsidy has pushed more farmers into replacing hybrid maize with local maize subsequently resulting in diminishing returns (Uttaro, 1998). The retrogr ession of agriculture, certainly not a difficult event to place in moti on, accelerates the unraveling of society driving people into other forms of survival strategies as less harvest means greater food insecurity (Uttaro, 1998). Thinking of process of primitivization as appl ied to Malawis agriculture is somewhat problematic, I admit. Part of the problem is that the majority of farmers in Malawi have always been involved in subsistence farming. That is true; however, if a count ry is to develop and agriculture is the main sector of economic activity that is to lead the way, then agriculture needs investments in technology to reach the volume and scale for development to take place. The 53 Reinert defines primitivization as an economic system o ccurring when labor markets no longer can provide core city activities and human beings are forced back into dimi nishing returns activities(172). I find the concept useful for Malawi in that the SAPs have fo rced farmers into diminishing returns activities such as planting local maize, cassava, millet and even tobacco.

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152 problem of agricultural development is that the av ailable technologies are too expensive. As a result, we have regress and diminishing returns. The other part of the problem of thinking of Malawi being caught in the phenomena of primitivization and lies in our understanding of the ro le technology plays. That, in turn, requires us not to limit our understanding of what makes up technology. In the West, we view technology through the modern lens, which can bot h distort and exclude what is or is not technology. Thinking of agricultu re, we tend to relate techno logy in terms of machinery, specialization and methods of farm ing that produce ever-higher yields It is useful, though, to be reminded that technology really is nothing more th an an improvement of an activity so that the ratio between what one expends in that activity, whether labor, la nd and/or capital is lessened to what is produced. Seen in this way, fert ilizer and hybrid seeds are also technology. How then can it be argued that primitivization is occurring in Malawi especially when the overwhelming majority of farmers are engaged in subsistence farming to some degree? A couple of points should be convincing. First, we know th at farmers yields of the staple food crop are shrinking due to soil infertility and we know that fertilizer and hybrid seed could turn that around (Benson, 1997; Peters, 1996, 1999; Owens, 1999; Gladwin et.al., 2001; Harrigan, 2001). Second, SAPs required the Government of Malawi to remove the fertiliz er subsidy that, in combination with a series of devaluations, caused fertilizer prices to skyrocket (Harrigan, 2001). Third, the IFIs, pinned their hope on the diversification of agriculture. Expanding burley tobacco production to the smallholder sector at first proved to be beneficial even to the extent that those rural farmers who grew burley also used fe rtilizer on hybrid mai ze (Orr, 2000; World Bank, 1995). However, by the late 1990s and early 2000s tobacco production was faltering as Malawi had trouble competing with other tobacco growi ng countries such as Mozambique that had lower

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153 transaction costs (Harrigan, 2001; Orr, 2000; Orr & Orr, 2001). Additionally, tobacco has not proved to be the solution for poverty reduction for several reasons. It is not an option for the huge number of households who can barely achieve food security from maize production, yearby-year price fluctuations, and problems with the quality depresses the market and much of the output offered gets rejected at auction or attr acts prices below the costs of production (Ellis, Kutengule & Nyasulu, 2002). Last, with high population growth, land for food production was under increasing pressure. Without fertilizer, maximum yields from the land could not be obtained consequently increasing food insecurity. Granted, even with fertilizer and hybrid maize, food security cannot be achieved by households with le ss than 0.5 hectares of land54 but it would extend food stocks by 2 to 3 months more than the 3 to 4 mont hs provided by local maize (World Bank, 1995; Devereux, 1997). Kamchedzera and Bandas (20 03) study found that villages reporting food stocks depleted for at least one fourth of the year, increa sed malnutrition rates and even starvation (Kamchedzera & Banda, 2003). Thro ughout Malawi not one of the communities studied reported self-sufficiency in food and all the communities were engaged in subsistence agriculture. The causes of the dire food situation include d selling food stuffs, as coping mechanisms to alleviate poverty, poor access to farm inputs such as fertilizer, crude farming methods such as the use of hoes, l ack of technical advi ce in agriculture, overdependency on maize, and increasing populat ion (Kamchedzera and Banda, 2003: 23). Moreover, at least in terms of food security, all of the communities visited in their study reported that they preferred the Banda years because they had access to agricultural loans, extension advice and services, and subsidized fert ilizer, all affected nega tively by SAPs (ibid.). 54 According to the World Bank (1998) it is estimated that 40% household landholdings are 0.5 ha or less. The Integrated Household Survey of 1998 co nfirms the reliability of the Banks estimate by finding the mean farm size to be 0.76 ha. It is a staggering number that if anything sobers the mind when considering the challenge of poverty reduction. It is this fact that has some suggesting that the only viable path for poverty reduction is to expand nonfarm activities (See Orr & Orr, 2001; Orr & Mwale, 2001; and Devereux, 1997).

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154 Since the adoption of SAPs star ting in 1981, life and livelihoods have not fared well. It is true that orthodox economic policie s have stabilized the economy, the deflationary nature of these policies esse ntially lowered per capit a income (Mkandawire, 2003) A significant amount of opinion argues that structural adjustment is not helpful for the poor in part because it is not particularly pro-growth and because it often worsens income distribution (Cornia & Court, 2001). The IMF has even described the effects its structural adjustment policies had on growth as barely discernible when full account is ta ken of macroeconomic po licies, human capital accumulation, initial conditions, and exogenous shocks (Kochnar, Coorey, Bredenkamp & Schadler, 1999:87). The upshot is that in Malawis case, poverty has not been reduced and even worsened since stabilization and adjustment polices were adopted. If it is not primitivization, it is certainly not an indication of development, even incremental, either. Problem Identification Such developments are well understood by rural farmers. For many, the affects are a daily reminder and even have a seasonal rhythm to them. During the growing season, the pale green, stunted maize stalks pres age a doubtful future. After harvest, partially full nkokwes (storage bins) cause families to start stretc hing their food in hopes of holding off the hungry season for ass long as possible. Hunger, malnut rition, and declining health follow and as the hungry season arrives, lives go from uncomfo rtable to weakened to desperate. Researchers have studied the impact of policy reforms on the population. Numbers and data revealed that structural adjustment and re form had a painful characteristic to it (Kydd & Dorward (2001); Kherallah & Govindan, 1999; Cornia, et.al., 1987; Adedeji, 1988; Chilowa, 1998; Brown & Thompson, 1996). It was therefore e xpected that the farmers, for whom such reforms were adopted and ostensibly, the beneficiar ies, would confirm that their lives were much less secure than before reforms.

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155 However, I was interested in something mo re. I expected farmers problems would cluster around food security and livelihood issues but I also wanted to see how often they identified similar problems. I expected most responses to be concerned with these types of problems. Importantly, farmers were not prompted so the responses would be theirs alone. Farmers were asked to iden tify the three greatest problem s facing Malawi in 1997/98 the responses were not surprising. As Table 5-1 sh ows, the three most frequently cited problems were ranked as hunger, poverty and lack of fer tilizer with hunger iden tified 26% of the time while poverty and lack of fertilizer follow with 19% and 12% respectively. In all, 57% of responses concerned problems that are directly related to declining agri cultural productivity and suggesting that respondents see th e relationship between the three. Although Table 5-1 supports the observations of others concerning declining living standards during th e reform process55 it should be noted that the re moval of fertilizer subsidies ties poverty and hunger together. With respons es clustered around thes e three problems, the impact of removing the fertilizer subsidy can be understood as not just a policy prescription to improve the governments fiscal position. Whereas some economists can argue that the cost of the subsidy distorts harms the macroeconomic st ructure, farmers are able to provide a human dimension to it by expanding the cost of remo val beyond the macroeconomic. The farmers dire situation is di rectly related to de clining yields and subsequent costs of importing food. They are living the poverty that policy was supposed to alleviate. To them the first two hunger and poverty are describing the conditions that result from declining agricultural productivity linked 55 For general descriptions on the effect of reforms in Malawi see Kherallah and Govindan (1999) Chilowa (1998) and Chirwa and Zakeyo (2003). More specifically, Kydd and Dorward (2001) and Devereux (2002a) identify factors that have made poverty reduction unattainable including low economic activity due to input, output, and financial markets which are vital for food crop intensification. See also the World Bank (1990) report that per capita food availability significantly declined throughout the 1980s, Chirwa, and Zakeyo (2003) on the per capita decline in maize supply.

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156 to land constraints and soil infert ility. It is no surprise that Malawi suffers persistent food insecurity. However, the lack of fertilizer worsens the problem. Table 5-1: Identification of problem s ranked by frequency and percentage Frequency Response First problem Second problem Third problem Total Percent of total responses Rank Hunger 115 6926210 26 1 Poverty 66 533615519 2 Fertilizer 41 382210112 3 Health 14 2527668 4 Inflation 8 135597 5 Crime 13 1411385 6 Infrastructure 8 1415375 7 Climate 6 1417375 7 Economic 8 819354 8 Societal 6 1011273 9 Government 2 711202 10 Agriculture 2 89192 11 Education 2 59162 12 Land 1 75131.5 13 Other 2 29131.5 13 Total 294 287232813101* **Missing 76269 More than 100% due to rounding up. ** Number of respondents that did not identify two or three problems: 7 only identified one problem; 62 only identified two problems. Respondents provide their own recognition of the development challenges in Malawi. What they tell us is affirmed in the statistics we have come to rely on. Regarding food security and the ability to provide for th eir household, respondent in my survey appear worse than NSO estimates of 52% (NSO/NEC, 2000). In Table 5-2 we see that just over th ree fifths or 64% of households report themselves as net buyers of maize for household consumption and shows a strong relationship between farm production (i n this case subsistence production) and net purchasing of food with a chi-square 86.38. Even the 12% of respondents who are buying maize though they say the farm produces enough food sugge sts that the separation between being food secure and insecure is very thin.

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157 Table 5-2: Households unable to produ ce enough food by frequency and percentage Now purchasing maize to eat N = 292 Yes (%) No (%) Chi-square P < Yes 7 (12)51 (88) Farm produce enough food for household No 181 (77)53 (23) 86.38 (.000) *Total 188 (64)104 (36) *Two respondents work off-farm and do not depend on their farms for meeting household food needs Furthermore, Table 5-3 confirms the depth of poverty in rural Malawi. In both the percentages of respondents who did not produce any crop for sale and the percentages of respondents being net purchasers of maize, poverty is all t oo common and overwhelming. The table shows that 83% of respondent s did not have a crop such as bur ly tobacco to help generate cash, which even as net buyers of maize, they would have money for food. Instead, without some cash generation, household coping strategies range from working off farm (ganyu labor) to selling possessions and assets. Table 5-3: Farm production and food s ecurity by frequency and percentage N=292 Yes (%) No (%) Total Farm p roduce enou g h foo d 58 ( 20% ) 234 ( 80% ) 292 Now buying maize to eat 188 (64%)104 (36%)294 Produce a crop for sale 45 (15%)245 (83%)290 Use fertilizer on crops 172 (58%)122 (42%)294 How fertilizer use relates to the high number of food insecure families is not fully apparent in Table 5-3. We see that 58% of respondents used fer tilizer on their maize, which might suggest that fertilizer is not as important a factor as argued here. However, Table 5-4 helps clarify the picture. In this table, fertiliz er use is compared with the previous year and it shows that a significant number of respondents (39%) used less than the prior year while another 38% said they used the same am ount. Only 23% used more. Since much of Malawis soils outside of the lower Shire Valley suffer from serious nutrient deficiency, lower application rates would re sult in lower yields. However, as shown in

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158 Chapter 4, less fertilizer or even no fertilizer causes farmers to make other consequential decisions affecting yields such as returning to pl anting local rather than hybrid maize. What is not known of respondents who used the same amount of fertilizer is whethe r the amount they are using is enough to insure food security. Unfortunately, I did not ask that question. Table 5-4: Fertilizer use on cr ops compared to previous ye ar by number and percentage N=294 Amount fertilizer used compared to previous year Number (%) Did not use fertilizer and reason Number (%) More 40 (23)No money 73 (60) Same 65 (38)No source 2 (1) Less 67 (39)Dont need* 47 (39) Total 172 (58) 122 (42)* Category made up of respondents from Nsanje region of Lower Shire Valley. Nevertheless, the data suggests that fertilizer use is importa nt to farmers household food security. Using the example above, even a sma ll farm using fertilizer would increase yields enough to reduce the period of time purchasing maize. Also interesting in Table 5-4 is that price is the constraint that kept farmer s from using fertilizer. What is an affordable price for fertilizer is an open question that cannot be answered at this time. An experiment I conducted in July 1998 suggests that price is important but availability is also a se rious constraint. What we can draw from Table 5-4 is that farmers would use fert ilizer if it were afford able. It also suggests that the removal of the subsidy and the consequent sharp rise in price helped push farmers deeper into food insecurity. One other comment regarding the use of fer tilizer and that con cerns the 47 respondents living in the Lower Shire Valley who do not use fert ilizer. The reason fertilizer is not used is due to the periodic flooding of the Shire Valley during the rainy season. The floods can be devastating to residents home and if great enough, destroy crops leaving the people facing starvation and dependent on food ai d. However damaging and destructive the floods are, when

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159 the waters recede they leave behi nd replenished and fertile soils. They do not need fertilizer and therefore counting their re sponses may not be appropriate for the question. If they were factored out in order to get the more accurate picture of fertilizer use and res pondents who need it, the percentages are much worse for those who did not us e it. In this case, 97 % of respondents that did not use fertilizer would have cite d the cost as the constraint. Important as fertilizer is for farmers, Tabl e 5-5 suggests that the amount of fertilizer is insufficient across all categories. Of all farmers who used fertilizer, only 28% reported that their farm produced enough food for the household. The ot her 72% who used fertilizer still could not produce enough food for the household. It would be expected that farmers who used less fertilizer than the previous year would see a de crease in yields and therefore more likely to be purchasing food. Yet, 42% of respondents purch asing maize used the same amount. Although a small percentage, respondents who applied more fertilizer than the previous year, 16% still did not produce enough to avoid food insecurity, which is somewhat surprising. The emerging picture is that many households are already food insecure and th eir situation would only worsen if they did not use fertilizer even if it is an insufficient amount. It und erscores just how vital people believe fertilizer is for th eir subsistence. Moreover, it draws our focus to realize that without a sustained and massive in crease in the availability or knowledge of using any other soil improvement technology, chemical fertilizer is the only option existing for Malawis farmers. Table 5-5: Amount of fertilizer use and food security N = 172 Fertilizer use comp ared to previous year as percentage Less Same More Chi-square P< Yes (N = 49) 33254212.86 .002 Farm produce enough food No (N = 123) 424216 Other factors also need to be considered a nd which prevent us from drawing any concrete conclusions from Table 5-5. For instance, although fertilizer use is important and many of the

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160 respondents identified it as so, the amount of fertil izer is only one predic tor of yields and food security. Types of fertilizer, farm size, availa bility, timing of applica tion, family size are just several factors that would affect yields. For ex ample, if a large family has a farm less than a hectare in size even using more fertilizer would have the un likely benefit of producing enough food. Fertilizer use is not the whole story. Respondents make it clear that th e agricultural sector is unab le to guarantee food security, much less provide sustainable economic growth fo r the nation. Too poor to afford inputs like hybrid maize and inorganic fertilizer results in be coming net buyers of maize, but for some, even that is not enough to fend off malnutrition. The consequence of poverty is devastating on children in that 48 percent of children under five years of age are stunted, 22 percent are severely stunted, and 22 percent are underwei ght. According to the NSO, these figures have not changed much since 1992 (NSO/GoM 2005). Up to this point, the discussion concerned re spondents identifying those problems that are affecting their lives. Not surprising for subsis tence farmers, the main concern is producing enough food for their households. It is also not surprising then, that farmers would identify lack of fertilizer as one of the three most importa nt problems facing them since it is directly associated with higher yields th at would alleviate their food insecurity. Clearly, the removal of the fertilizer subsidy severely a ffected food security because farmers who did not use fertilizer cited cost as the reason 97% of the time.56 As stated above, poverty, hunger and lack of fertilizer are linked. Furthermore, while poverty and hunger were conditions (i.e., a person sees themselves as poor and/or hungry) the lack of fertilizer is a policy that farmers per ceived and identified as a serious problem and the 56 This number again reflects only farmers who needed fe rtilizer for their land and excluded the farmers in the Lower Shire who farmed fertile soil.

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161 key to their conditions. This is evident in Ta ble 5-6 where respondents were asked to rank what they felt the government should do to address thei r situation. As Table 5-6 shows, respondents prioritize fertilizer as a solution from the gove rnment. When asked what they thought the government should address of the three greatest problems facing Malawi respondents mentioned fertilizer 23% of the time with hung er at 17% and poverty at 4%. Table 5-6: Solutions for government to address ranked by frequency and percentage Frequency Response First problem Second problem Third problem Total Percentage of total responses Rank Fertilizer 66 34510523 1 Hunger 58 1737817 2 Economic 26 16 547 10 3 Agriculture 17 17 943 9 4 Infrastructure 21 14 136 8 5 Health 13 16 231 7 6 Government 24 3 229 6 7 Inflation 14 10 --24 5 8 Poverty 8 7 217 4 9 Crime 8 6 216 4 10 Education 7 4 --11 2 11 Other 8 1 --9 2 12 Societal 4 4 --8 2 12 Land 2 ---2 0 13 Total 277 14931457 99 Did not identify 17 145263425 This breakdown of responses with fertilizer as the most urgent in their opinions was surprising. I thought fertilizer would be mentioned but I did not expect it to be cited as the first issue for the government to address. This suggests that the re spondents understand the relationship that exists between fertilizer, hunger and poverty and that acce ss and use of fertilizer is essential to lessening both. Moreover, the fact that they rank it above all else including hunger and poverty underscores their understa nding of how vital is access to fertilizer. In other words, it appears respondents want their govern ment to act on this policy.

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162 Importance of Perceptions of the Promise of Democracy The lives of rural farm ers are difficult and get ting worse. So far, the research shows that they understand the relationship between their poverty, hunger, and low yields. They have identified fertilizer access as the third greatest problem facing Ma lawi. The next step is to determine how the realities of their lives relate to their perception of democracy. Not everyone would agree that a positive perception of democracy is important for consolidation to occur. It has been argued that the success or failure of democracy in Africa will depend on how the elites behave (Mkandawire, 2 003). Elites are pivota l in that they can undermine or uphold democracy depending on how they calculate the benefit for themselves. Essentially, the focus is on the greater importance of elite driven reform as more effective in achieving consolidation. That is assuming there is a significant number of elites wanting to reach consolidation and willing to push towards it. The other side of that coin is where elites have a strong interest in halti ng or at least hindering consolida tion. Elites would have different incentives if perceptions of democracy were low and would just as likely undermine democratic institutions as they would support them. However, not just elites matter. The percep tion of democracy cannot be considered as insignificant for democratic consolidation. A positive perception is important because it indicates two, if not more, positive developments are occurring: 1) people believe it is working in their benefit and 2) democratic government institutions are responding positively to peoples needs, which causes and strengthens occurrence number one. If we learned anything from Africas troubled past, the difficulty of building a nation and a sense of belonging to that nation cannot be understated. Hyden (1980) described the state as a separate entity unconnected to society resulting in an uncaptured peasantry. He later captured the character of the state metaphorically as a balloon floating with impunity above civil society (Hyden, 1983: 19)

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163 The difficulty of creating a sense of belonging and connectedness to th e state is therefore a crucial undertaking for a new democracy. When democratic government fails to address the needs of people, such as the causes of social and economic inequality, poverty, and hunger while failing to provide other necessary functions, satisfaction with demo cracy declines. According to Bratton (2004) across the continent, there has be en a slight drop of those adults who are very satisfied with democracy but the quality of democracy is strained (Bratton, 2004: 5). The same trend is happening with Malawis democracy. In recent years, there has been slippage in areas of particular importance for democratic co nsolidation. Civil liberties, freedom of speech and minority rights are three important areas where backsliding occurred causing Freedom House to move Malawi from free to partially free. Ten years after, 57% of Malawians say democracy has major problems or not a demo cracy at all (Khalia & Chibwana, 2005). At this point, it is beyond the scope of this research to determine whether responsiveness builds a sense of connection or even changes peoples views of the state. Instead, the task is to discover if responsiveness affects peoples faith in democracy. It certainly is suggestive that responding positively to peoples needs is a first step towards democratic consolidation. Social and Economic Variables What follows are a series of tables show ing the relationship between socioeconomic variables and the perception of democracy. To begin, respon dents were asked during the interview if they felt the promise of democracy ha d been kept. As we can see in Table 5-7, 75% of respondents do not feel that the promise of de mocracy has been kept. At first blush, this number may seem very large when considering that Malawi had only been a democracy for three years when this study was undertaken and not that long after when Banda ruled the country very heavy handed through the MCP. We might expect that people would have more patience.

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164 Table 5-7: Respondents believing the pr omise of democracy has been kept Number Percent No 220 75 Yes 67 23 Total 287 98 Missing 7 2 Total 294 100 Moreover, other specific policies implemente d by the new government were very popular such as free primary school educa tion for everyone and free secondary education for girls. There were unforeseen problems arising from these program s but at least school fees were no longer an obstacle to an education. With memories of one party rule still very fresh in their minds and new polices that at least appeared to address some social issues it support for democracy might be expected to be high. However, that is not the case. With a response so overwhelmingly negative, a different approach is necessary to try to understand why people may be losing faith in democracy. Since a significant majotirty of respondents (75%) believe the promise of democracy has not been kept, then the next step is to find th e evidence that might shed some light on why people believe this. Since I have proposed that poor peop le expect democracy to address their material condition, questions along those li nes are useful. One such question suggesting a substantial reason concerns respondents perceptions on their lives. Table 5-8 provides some evidence that peoples expectations have a material basis. Table 5-8: Is life better or wo rse after MCP and one party rule? Frequency Percent Worse 115 40 Same 39 13 Better 136 46 Total 290 99 Missing 4 1 Total 294 100.0

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165 Although 46% of respondents believe their live s are better under demo cracy the majority feels that their lives have either become worse or remained the same. However, it remains only suggestive that people think their material well-be ing and democracy are related. The next step is to show specific relationships. As seen in Table 5-9 using cross tabula tions, there is a relationship between the perception of the promise of democracy and economic conditions. For example, 74% of respondents who do not believe the promise of democracy have be en kept were buying maize at the time of the interview. The relationship is very high with a chi square of 37.16. Fertilizer also has a very high relationship with the belief in democracy particularly those who used either the same amount or less. Very close to half the res pondents (49%) who have a negative view of the promise of democracy did not use fertilizer and again, with a very high chi-square of 22.59. More interesting is the rela tionship between those who used the same or less amount of fertilizer. A very high percentage of respondent s (86%) who used the same or less were also highly likely to have little faith in democracy. This suggests that respondents regard fertilizer as significantly contributing to th eir economic condition. It also highlights that fertilizer availability is an important expe ctation of democracy and suggests a strong relationship with the promise of democracy. Indeed, fertilizer was qui ckly politicized in the first election campaign with many politicians promising a return to free fertilizer or heavily subsidized.57 Even among those who did not use fertilizer, 49% were al so negative on the per ception of democracy. However, again this is probably masking a larger percentage since it in cludes the 47 respondents form the lower Shire Valley who did not use fe rtilizer because there is no need for it. 57 Quite a few respondents related stories of politicians co ming into the villages promising many free items such as free maize and free fertilizer. Other candidates promised only the reestablishment of heavily

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166 Table 5-9: Relationship betw een perceptions of democracy and agricultural production Promise of democracy kept % Yes % No % All Chi-square P < Yes 1288100 (1) Now buying maize to eat No 4456100 37.16 .000 Yes 1387100 (2) Usually buy maize every year No 2872100 11.00 .004 Yes 3367100 (3) Use fertilizer on maize No 991100 22.59 .000 Same/Less 2674100 (4) If used fertilizer, amount compared to More 5941100 15.03 .000 Yes 3862100 (5) Produce a surplus to sell at market No 2179100 5.89 .015 Yes 3169100 (6) Life better since end of one party rule 58 No 1783100 8.06 .005 Total N 22067287 Missing values: (2) = 1; (4) = 108 due to questio ning only for positive responses for (3); (5) = 4; (6) = 1 The preceding discussion strongly suggests pe oples expectations of democracy are linked to how they view their lives. Asked if their lives are better, the same or worse since the end of MCP one party rule and the advent of democrac y, 57% of respondents who are discouraged about democracys effectiveness said their lives had remained the same or worsened. It is clearly shown by the evidence so far that people beolieve their lives worsening. Furthermore, there is a widespre ad loss of faith in democracy. Taken together, they strongly suggest that democracy is not meeting the materi al expectations of respondents. However, the next step is to see if there is any relationshi p between this loss of fa ith in democracy and how 58 The original question asked respondents if they felt their lives were better, the same or worse since the end of MCP one party rule. For this table, those who answered th e same were combined with those who answered worse in order to have a clearer distinction. When left alone, the relationship is even stronger with a chi-square of 13.13 and a p < .001. The percentage of respondents who answered worse and felt democracy had not kept its promise was reduced to 46% while 11% of those who said life was the same also felt the same about democracy.

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167 people viewed their government overall. A number of questions were asked testing perceptions of government responsiveness a nd effectiveness. The result s are in Tables 5-10 and 5-11. Table 5-10: Relationship between perceptions of democracy and government responsiveness Promise of democracy kept % Yes % No % All Chi-square P < Yes 5644100 (1) Government trying to solve problems No 1882100 30.94.000 Yes 694100 (2) Government policies favor one group over others No 4060100 46.7.000 Yes 5248100 (3) Parliament affects my life No 892100 68.000 Yes 1288100 (4) MPs and Ministers actions have little meaning on my life No 4258100 35.96.000 Yes 1882100 (5) No party represents rural interests No 3070100 5.88.015 Yes 4159100 (6) Party leader called meeting to discuss village problems No 892100 44.9.000 Yes 2773100 (7) Children receiving good education No 694100 11.15.001 Yes 3763100 (8) MPs working hard to solve Malawi's problems No 2080100 6.08.014 Yes 364100 (9) MP cares about what happens to you No 1981100 9.09.003 Yes 3268100 (10) MP tries hard to work for constituency No 2080100 4.99.025 Yes 3268100 (11) President Muluzi knows of your problems No 1684100 9.03.003 Yes 4456100 (12) President Muluzi cares about what happens to you No 793100 52.89.000 Yes 1585100 (13) Better local leaders had more power and responsibility No 3763100 18.12.000Missing values: (2) = 13; (3) = 6 ; (4) = 11;(5) = 1; (6) = 2; (7) = 4; (8) = 40; (9) = 4; (10) = 1; (11) = 2; (12) = 3; (13) = 3 In Table 5-10, people generally feel government is distant, un responsive, and ineffective. Feelings that both the Presiden t and MPs have little concern for their plight are high with respondents but there is a substantial difference between how people perceive the President and the MP on this score as Table 5-11 illustrates. For instance, the Pr esident appears to be given the benefit of the doubt in both caring about peopl e and knowing of their problems even though 54%

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168 feel he does not care about how th eir lives are deteriorating. Th e reason he is seen as more concerned about peoples lives than the MPs may be due to the belief that he is unaware of the problems people face. MPs are seen very differen tly. Seventy four percent of respondents feel their MP does not care about what happens to them while 67% believe he is fully aware of their problems. Table 5-11: Perceptions of political leaders awareness and concern % Yes% No President cares about what happens to you 4454 President knows of your problems 4652 MP cares about what happens to you 2674 MP knows of your problems 6732 This is not surprising after listening to complaints and comments about MPs. For example, it is very common for people to say they never see their MP until election time when he shows up with bags of maize and fertilizer. Opinions about his wherea bouts were also highly critical and disparaging with remarks such as he too busy building another house or he is counting the money he stole us. The large ga p between the President and the Parliament is interesting since the Constitution of 1995 establis hed a presidential system of government. In theory power is well-defined and divided up between the three branches of government (Meinhardt & Patel, 2003). In reality, power is more concentr ated in the President and his Cabinet and Parliament is for the mo st part, a rubber stamp for policies59 (ibid.). This accumulation of power in the Presidency has led so me to label Malawis system as a hybrid part parliamentarian, part presiden tial. The point is that few if any policies ever emerge from the Parliament that possibly contributes to peoples negativ e perception of their MPs. 59 Parliaments rejection of President Muluzis attempt to have the Constitution amended in 2003 so he could seek a third term was one time when it acted independently exercising its power.

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169Political Implications: Vo ting and Participation The data shows that lack of government res ponsiveness is causing people to lose faith in democracy. People believe their leaders are aware of the problems but show little concern for their plight. The distance betw een government and the people is wide. Even the minority who feel the promise of democracy has been kept do not have positive feelings about their leaders. If it is important, then in what manner does this relationship between lack of responsiveness by the government and decreasing faith in democracy show itself? People can show their dissatisfaction with government perfor mance in many ways. One way is to vote for the opposition. This exercise of accountability is the most powerful tool democracy places in the hands of citizens. Considering the data, we might expect to find that voters in Malawi are exercising their right to hold officials accountable by electing new leaders from different political parties. However, in Table 5-12 so mething else is showing up: decreasing voter turnout. Voter participation has dramatically decreased between the el ections of 1999 and 2004 by almost 40%. Table 5-12: Voting turnout 1993 2004 Election year 1993 19941999 2004 Total votes cast (president) 3,153,4483,040,6654,755,422 3,119,645 Total registered voters 4,699,5263,775,2565,071,822 5,742,747 Participation (% turnout) 67.080.593.8 54.3 Source: Erdmann, Patel a nd Schweitzer (2004) The difference is huge for one election cycl e particularly when compared to the increasing participation since the referendum in 1993 and deserves further discussion. Table 512 suggests that voters are losing faith in democracy and not just their faith in a political partys ability to meet their basic needs and address live lihood issues. If that was not the case, then we could expect to see a greater shif t in voter preferences towards part icular political parties rather than a dramatic drop in participation. Voters in Malawi have chosen to exit the system rather

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170 than change the leadership. This development strongly suggests that peop le see the system as dysfunctional and failing because their basic socio economic needs have been ignored. It is also suggestive that their belief that democracy would l ead to a better life is diminishing, at least in the short term. The data offered in this chapte r provides the reasons for the dramatic decline in participation. Perhaps a better way to see what factors determine whether or not the promise of democracy has been kept in Malawi is logit regr ession analysis where the dependent variable is a categorical (discrete) variable (1= the respondent perceives that yes, the promise of democracy has been kept, and 0 = no, s/he perceives that no, it has not). Logit regression analysis in this instance is preferable to chi-squared analysis becaus e it allows the researcher to hold constant all other variables while examining the effect of a specific variable on the dependent variable, in this case the promise of democracy. If the coefficien t of the independent variable is significant, it is assumed that there is a significant relation betw een that particular independent variable and the dependent variable. In chi-s quared analysis, by contrast, resu lts may include some spurious correlation between other independ ent variables and the dependent variable, and may not let us see just how significant the influence a specifi c independent variable has on the dependent variable. The results of testing two slightly differen t models by running two different logistic regressions on the dependent variable are shown in table 5-13. Model one represents different combinations of 11 independent variables incl uding the gender of the respondent (1=female, 0=male), his/her level of education, his/her pe rception of whether the farm produced a profit (1=yes, 0=no), whether or not the household had to buy maize this season (1=yes, 0=no), whether it used chemical fertilizer this year (1=yes, 0=no), wh ether the respondent perceived an

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171 increase in criminality with democracy (1=y es, 0=no), whether or not the village headman discussed problems with household members (1=yes, 0=no), whether or not th e MP tried hard to help the community (1=yes, 0=no), whether or not people cooperated to so lve problems in their village (1=yes, 0=no), whether or not women shou ld be allowed to wear trousers (1=yes, 0=no), and whether life was perceived to be better since the end of single party rule (1=yes, 0=no). Results show that variables of education leve l, farm profitability, and responsiveness of the village headman and MP are not significant. It suggests th at peoples education level has little to do with their view of the promise of democracy. One helpful way of seeing this is simply that people may have perc eptions about the promise of democracy, they may even talk to each other about it, but they do it regardless of how far they progressed in school. The same applies to the variable of farm producing a prof it. It, too, has no significance that could be explained by the fact that most farms are sm all and people are more concerned with growing enough food. If there are surpluses or profits, they most likely are very small and therefore not large enough for people to be deeply concerned about. Two other variables that the model shows to have no significance on the promise of democracy concerns whether or not the village headman discusses problems in the village with them and whether or not they perceive their MP as working hard for them. Intuitively, this may be somewhat surprising, especially regarding the MP variable since it is an elected position. However, for the most part, people do not have a favorable impression of MPs. MPs are seen as self-seeking individuals in polit ics for their own benefit and not representing the people. If people assume that MPs are only self-interested, then expectations of MPs fulfilling their democratic responsibilities are, a priori, non-ex istent. The same general feeling may hold for village headmen. Although everyon e in the village knows the head man, his responsibilities are

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172 well defined and limited and even if he talks to people about problems in the village, people know s/he can do little about it. Table 5-13: Logistic regression models pred icting perception of whether the promise of democracy has been kept or not Label Variable betaModel 1 Model 2 -2.304 -2.711 Constant -1.237 1.171 -.814* -.726* SI_SX Sex (male = 0) b1-0.39 -0.377 -0.066 SI_3 Level of education b2-0.053 -0.357 SI_7B Farm produce profit (0=no) b4-0.546 -1.408*** -1.383*** SI_10 Buy maize to eat at present (0=no) b5-0.425 -0.396 1.025** .957** SI_15A Use fertilizer on farm this year (0=no) b6-0.46 -0.434 1.478*** -1.630*** PD_31A Democracy increases criminality b7-0.394 -0.386 0.4 SC_21 Village headman discusses problems with us b8-0.443 0.05 GR_37 MP tries hard to help our community b9-0.409 .772** .905** SC_43 People cooperate to solv e problems in our village b10-0.345 -0.339 1.641*** 1.710*** MA_89 Women should be able to wear trousers if they want b11-0.401 -0.381 .489** .419** GR_66A Life better since e nd of single party rule b12-0.198 -0.186 % of cases predicted correctly 84.1 85.5 Chi-square*** 114.882 114.664 -2 log likelihood 188.780 192.749 N 276 283 = p .10; ** = p .05; ***p= .001 In contrast, the gender variable is significant at the 10% level of significance. It is also negative, showing that all other things being equal (farm profitab ility, for instance) men are more likely to perceive that the promise of democracy has been kept, maybe because men have more access to cash crops. At higher levels of significance are economic variables such as whether

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173 the household had to buy maize to supplem ent their own farm production (p< 0.001), and whether it could afford to apply fertilizer this year (p<.05). Both have a positive impact on the likelihood that respondents perceive the promises of democracy have been kept. In model 4, also significant were variables representing social cap ital, such as whether people were cooperating to solve village problems (p < 0.05) and whether demo cracy was perceived to increase criminality (p < 0.001), and modern attitudes which is cap tured by womens choice to wear trousers (p<0.001). More important is that the regression tests th e main hypothesis of this thesis, namely that government responsiveness is related to the prom ise of democracy. The life better since one party rule variable is used as a proxy variable for structural adjustment policies. To improve our comprehension of this idea, let us assume for argument sake, that the World Bank and IMF got it right and the SAPs had worked. Then we could expect respondents to claim that life is better indicating that the market succeeded in improving lives and al l the reform polices, even if initially painful, had pulled the country through. In this scenari o, people would expect less need for government responsiveness since their lives were perceptibly better wit hout it. Results show, however, that only a minority of respondents perceived life to be better since the end of oneparty rule: life was better for only 135 of the samp le; for 152, slightly more than half, life was the same or worse. Yet because only a minority (67) thought the promise of democracy has been kept (while the majority (220) thought it had not), the hypothesis of this thesis is supported by these results, because the sign on lif e better is positive and significant. It is difficult to interpret the magnitude of that influence by the coefficients in a logit regression model on their own. Ho wever, one way to interpret th e magnitude of influence on the dependent variable is to calculate the probability of an ideal type of respondent feeling the

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174 promise of democracy has been kept or not. In th is manner, we use the most important variables, keeping others at their mean, and calculate the pr obability that this type of individual would perceive that the promise of democracy has been kept, or not. Table 5-14: Predicted probability on dependent variable Has the promise of democracy been kept? Ideal type % No % Yes Woman buying maize, no access to fertilizer, who feels life has gotten worse since the end of single party rule 87.812.2 Man not buying maize with access to fertilizer who feels life has gotten better since end of single party rule 52.147.9 To illustrate, we will use the four variables mostly related to this thesis (fertilizer, buying maize, life better, and gender) and create a woman and a man who are exactly opposite. Our ideal woman is buying maize, does not have access to fertilizer, and percei ves life is not getting better. Our ideal type man is not buying maize, has access to fertilizer, and perceives life getting better. In Table 5-14, we see that the model pr edicts a 52% probability that our ideal type man feels the promise of democracy has not been kept while it predicts an 88% probability that our ideal type woman feels the same. A converse pictur e is reflected in the probabilities that these two ideal type individuals woul d feel that the promise of democracy has been kept. The differences are statistically sign ificant and provide further proof that the interpretations of the result of the model in favor of the main hypothesis of this dissertation are valid.

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175 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS During the transition period, the UDF cry of Zinthu zatani? (W hat has happened?) rang clearly across the land. After becoming President, Bakili Muluzi continued to ask this question at his rallies and in unison the crowds would roar ba ck Zasintha! (Things have changed!) (Englund, 2002; personal witness). As Malawi approaches the quarter century mark of democracy, the question still resonates. Howe ver, the answer is now much less definite and any conclusions are mixed at best. The question addressed in this dissertation is whether the SAPs in general, and the removal of the fertilizer subs idy specifically, has any affect on peoples perception of the promise of democracy and if so, in what way? How are they expressing their concerns? The main discovery is that people have lost faith in the promise of democracy. For a large majority democracy came with a promise of improving their material needs. Only a very few see any improvement in their lives. Most in fact, feel it is getting worse. These findings support my hypothesis that the governments failure to address peoples basic and fundamental material needs will lead to people losing faith in democracy. Respondents express it directly in the survey but it also shows as a significant drop in voter turnout over the previous elections. This finding, in and of itself, is not surprising. What is surprising is that people id entified the one policy that they feel could ma ke a significantly positive differe nce in their lives and that is having access to fertilizer. By identifying fe rtilizer as the primary policy they want from government, it shows that rural pr oducers are very much aware of the importance of fertilizer policy. For this study, what is more significant is that it provides a ve ry concrete reason for losing faith in democracys effectiveness.

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176 All indications are that the majority of pe ople are experiencing worsening lives: they are working much more and much harder and falling further behind. In this respect, Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, is reflected in Colliers finding that over the three decades from 1970 to 2000, the bottom billion are worse o ff then they were in 1970 (Collier, 2007). If they are lucky to have a good y ear that shortens the length of the hunger season the next drought sends them backwards. Droughts and floods are events no government can control but governments have to respond to them. Malawis government whose capacity has been reduced by policies designed in Washington is clearly disadvantaged in this respect. However, the issue here goes beyond the capac ity to respond to disasters. It focuses more on the overall policy making endeavor. In br ief, the point is that the policies that are driving poor people into deeper poverty are essentially non-polic ies because the government is prohibited from adopting them. If there is no di scussion, no proposal, no deliberation, there is really no policy. This is the case wi th the fertilizer subsidy policy. In this dissertation, I have explored the re lationship between demo cratic consolidation and economic structural adjustment. I have argu ed that Malawis democr atic consolidation has stalled due to the context in wh ich these two phenomena take place. It is a context where two ideals are pulling against each other working, as I put it, at crosspurposes. In isolation of each other, each believes it has the plan to a promising future for Malawi lies within. On the one side, the hope is that democracy will usher in a new form of governance that will bring significant change in both the political and the material liv es of people. That belief is premised on the assumption that democratic government is transparent, accountable, responsive, and distributional.

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177 On the other side, the IFIs with their structur al adjustment policies have an equally strong belief. In this perspective, economic growth and prosperity will come only through economic structural change. This belief is premised on the assumption that a functioning market is a better, more efficient distributor of wea lth than the government and that a free market will fuel growth. Growth leads to the emergence of a democratically orient ed civil society. At that point, groups will defend their newly acquired wealth from the state and will be instrumental in maintaining a free society where power is decentralized and democr atic institutions flourish. I realize this is just a brief and arguably superficial summation of the two sides but it suffices to illustrate the basic differences between the two perspectives. The results found in this dissertation show a loss of faith in democracy. However, it does not directly address one of the th eoretical aspects of th is study and that is how declining popular perceptions of democracy came abou t and how that affects consolid ation. In other words, what does it all mean for the larger picture? Although much of what I draw out of my research is merely suggestive, it is a point that deserves comment and elaboration. It is evident that restricting government policymaking creates a less than hospitable context for consolidation. In essence, wher e democracy is all about choices, the SAPs effectively removed the very choices that woul d have strengthened the beliefs and faith people had in democracy. In this sense, SAPs and de mocratic governance are working at cross-purposes to each other resulting in a dramatic drop in pe oples positive perception that democracy would improve their lives. Throughout my stay in Malawi, the most often stated reason why people supported democracy was freedom. Indeed, consideri ng Malawis past, peopl es understanding of democracy had multiple meanings. Nevertheless, it was clear then that the freedom that came

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178 with democracy could be conflate d into two categories: freedom to and freedom from. To vendors in Lilongwe, democracy meant free to sell their vegetables and merchandise while farmers saw democracy as freedom from the st ate taking their food and animals. There is no doubt that along the political dimensi on, democracy has meant Zasintha. On the socio-economic dimension, disappointment and general pessimism is understandable. Even as the th ird wave of democracy arrived in sub-Saharan Africa, some feared that the socioeconomic conditions spel led doom for democratic experiments in that region. Certainly, low economic development and high levels of poverty are major challenges for many new democracies. In a sense, the hi gh expectation that democracy would turn the economic decline of the 1980s into long-awaited pr osperity in the 1990s was similar to expecting gold could be spun from straw. Twenty-five years later, it is understandable if the answer to the question What has happened? is a dismissive shrug. True, other developments and f actors that influence the situation in Malawi should not be ignored. Nevertheless, it is important for this study to highlight the significance of the economic factor. If democracys survival in poor count ries is highly related to economic growth then conversely the prospects are dim indeed, when grow th is not taking place. This is the case for Malawi. As shown in Chapters 4 and 5, Malawi is experiencing her own form of primitivization as lives and livelihoods diminish. People are losing faith in the promise of democracy and, powerless to do anything about it, they low participation levels i ndicate they are exiting from the system. Exiting may not be all that is occurring, either Naturally, in such circumstances, people turn their gaze towards the one who can help them. Deteriora ting lives provide openings for anti-democratic elite behavior. It is here where the cynic glimps es possibly a real benefit of

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179 structural adjustment. With lives deteriorating, the poor are easily susceptible to the meager help of powerful and wealthy men who wi ll benefit from clientalistic ties Neopatimonial practices of the past determine institutional performance. Ineffective institutions become residences for corruption that stifle economic growth while fai ling to promote and protect the interests of the poor. Resurgence of the Personality Politics The declin e in voter participation is worrisome because it is so dramatic. The fact leaders are not being held accountable because exiting makes more sense than voting for someone else, indicates that democracy in Malawi is not doing well. Consolidation appears to be far off. What explanations are there for optioning to exit rather than voice? (Hir schman, 1970). Political culture of the Ngwazi: Looking at how people view their leaders may provide some tentative answers. It is plausible democr acys inability to improve lives substantially is attributable to Muluzis own construction of the Presidency that to a lesser degree reflects Bandas thirty years in power. Muluzis own distance from the hardship his people face is as wide as under Banda. For the most part, he and members of parliament never really shed the old political culture and it is possible that the people are very much aware of the trend. As a political culture argument it is difficult for Westerners to understand but Banda was able to embed himself as President in Malawis traditional culture and used it very effectively. For example, at the time of independence, young er nationalist leaders had made Banda their leader extolling his academic achievements, hi s status as an elder and a wise man (Lwanda, 1993). The beginning of the personality cult co incided with the beginning of Malawis independence: From the minute Banda landed in Malawi he was a savior, Me ssiah, Ngwazi (the conqueror), Redeemer, Nkhoswe Number OneChiume, who was a brilliant propagandist, coined the phrase Zonse Zime ne za Kamuzu Banda (Everything belongs

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180 to Kamuzu) and Zibute, zitane, ndife a Ma lawi, tiri pambuyo pa Kumuzu (Come hell or high water, we are behind Kamuzu). Every politician, before and after independence was keen to affirm their loyalty and obedience to Kamuzu (Lwanda, 1993: 48). As Ngwazi he embraced the idea of imposing Chewa culture and identity on the country (ibid.). To that end, he enhanced an already el evated image of the elde rly and wise doctor to coincide with traditional Chewa healing beliefs. Much of the traditional Chewa medicines come from plant roots and he exploited the coincide nce of his own name, Kamuzu, which means little root in Chichewa to this belief Westerners might dismiss this constructed relationship as trivial and not give it much weight. However, for Malawi ans and particularly in the rural areas, a black leader who was educated in the West (demonstra ting equality with the Whites) and yet had the knowledge of the village would carry a great amount of authority a nd reverence (ibid). Thus, his obsessiveness with the flywhisk was symbolic of a traditional healer in the village. This enlarged view of the President as one who wields real power in the country while the view of MPs in parliament is much less favor able portends possibilities that could be either beneficial or harmful for the consolidation of democracy. The President could use his popularity to design and implement policies th at are perceived as effective and responsive thus increasing the legitimacy of the state in the eyes of the people. Broad based polic es targeted to peoples needs provides them with a stake in the state a nd it makes sense that people will support a state that shows it cares for them. However, just as possible is the opportunity to abuse power and unfortunately, this appears to be the direction President Muluzi wanted to go. From expanding his Cabinet to over thirty posts for patronage purposes to using th e trappings of office and his own fortune to purchase votes, Bakili Mulzi, has made Mala wis democratic consolidation even more challenging. One way he concentrated power in the office through adopting the concept of a new Ngwazi (Lwanda, 1996). Another method was to place the term Doctor in his official

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181 title further merging the past with the present. Banda was a medical doctor earning his degree in the US and in Scotland and he included Doctor in his official title. Muluzi, however, never earned a doctorate but after recei ving an honorary doctorate from Li ncoln University in the US in 1995, he broke customary practice and had his title changed to include his honorific title. Next, Muluzi installed himself as the Chancello r of the University of Malawi, Malawis top university just as Banda had bee n. He continued to build a per sonality presidency by issuing the MK200 note, the first in Malawis history with his picture on it, ag ain causing observers to wonder if the new Ngwazi was imit ating the old Ngwazi too closely. Muluzis attempt at revising the Constitution in order for him to run for a third term that was his most blatant attempt at concentrating power. Fortunately, Parliament did not go along. If he had succeeded, he not only would have been Pr esident for half of Bandas time in office but also would have had five more years to conti nue down the path towards authoritarianism. Yet, the campaign to change the Constitution was led by Presidential Affairs Minister Dumbo Lemani, a man of questionable temperamen t who as an MP was quick to resort to imtimidation, bad judgement and confirmed thuggery (Africa News Network, 1997). A constitutional amendment passed in November of 2001 effectively reduced the majority required to amend the constitution from two thirds to 50 percent plus one which intended to ensure that the UDF would have the number of votes in parliament to approve constitutional changes. Moreover, anticipating that there would be some opposition to the third term the UDF in Parliament tried to impeach judges deemed as being with the opposition and replace them with judges supportive of the proposed constitutiona l amendment (Maroleng, 2004). The resulting confrontation between the judiciar y and the executive has left both very distrustful of each other (Maroleng, 2004).

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182 Although the Parliament rejected his bi d, Muluzis actions leading up to the Constitutional showdown reveals other disturbingly parallels to Banda. Muluzi responded to Church groups and civil society organizations in Malawi openly oppos ed to a third term more in the tradition of Banda by banni ng all public demonstrations in Malawi. Even more disturbing and again very similar to Banda, the UDF established a wing called the Young Democrats who were for the most part made up of thugs rele ased by the party to intimidate and break up opposition rallies and silence voices of opposition. One incident involved Bishop Tengatenga up in Mwanza. Tengatenga was asked to give a talk that was not considered political but since he had expressed concern about the growing power of the presidency in an earlier speech, the Young Democrats were instructed to beat Te ngatenga to silence him. Fortunately, for Tengatenga, the Young Democrats who were waiti ng for him outside the hotel had never seen him before. Unfortunately, another Bishop was mistaken for Tengatenga and severely beaten (personal discussion). These events suggest that democratic values are undergoing great pr essures and retreating in Malawi. Assaults on individuals, opposition part ies, fellow MPs all harkens back to the Banda years. Political trends are looking more as con tinuity with the authoritarian practices of the previous regime rather than th e break with the past and a new beginning that was anticipated by Malawians in 1994. These developments help inform the underling theme of this disserta tion that essentially removing policies from government consideratio n weakens a democratic state and subvert the very institutional development necessary for consolidation. In its place, political elites committed to enhancing their own political power re turn to the patron-clientalistc relations and corruption of the past.

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183 Nevertheless, as the UNDP reported, democra tization does not come with any guarantees, however democratic institutions and practices hav e the capacity to challenge the concentration of political power and prevent th e emergence of tyranny (UNDP, 2002: 83). It is an important reminder not to throw the baby out with the bath water even as the trends are away from consolidation and growth seems elusive as ever. The patient may be ill but not terminally and a cure is still worth attempting. As this study shows, people do not see th eir lives improving. Instead, life is getting harder and declining. Th e overall picture is one of deepeni ng poverty and equally is the feeling that democracy has failed on that promise. Yet, even as they have identified the problems, they point to a solution. They cite the hunger and po verty that plagues the countryside but also a policy that increase access to fertilizer to turn the situation around. We can see that there are various answers to the question What has happened? posed by Muluzi and the UDF. One answer is not much but then that does not ca pture the political and economic condition that has taken hold of the country. Much has happened, however undesirable. It would be erroneous to place all th e responsibility on the shoulders of the IFIs and their policies. After all, so me of the policies had good outco mes. For example, removing restrictions on burley tobacco in 1994 and a llowing small holders to grow it had a very significant positive impact on the lives of poor farm ers. It is possible to design and implement policies that provide people the means to lessen their poverty. Yet even a successful policy such as liberalizing burley tobacco has little if any impact on the genera l demoralizing affect of failure to develop. Describing what has taken place in Mala wi since the arrival of democracy and highlighting the importance of the material demands placed on it, only takes us so far. Trends,

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184 both political and economic are not very promisi ng and if they continue, then Malawi will be very different and arguably worse than the coun try we see today. Are to the clues as to why Malawi has reached this stage and a way forw ard, I return to the role of the state Reflections on the Role of the State Every dissertation, or research project for that m atter, confronts the So what? question. This thesis has shown with strong data that people in Malawi have lost faith in the promise of democracy. Moreover, they linked a ccess to fertilizer as the issue that has the greatest influence on their growing poverty and hunger. They wish the government would address that issue but reinstating the subsidy was not an option due to SAPs. As a result, diminished faith in democracy corresponds with diminished lives. It is this idea of diminishment that ultimately has hangs over the entire discussion and hence brings me to attempt an answer the So what? question. To answer that, I have to back up one-ste p and answer the beggi ng question: why has economic growth and democratic consolidation failed in Malawi? We know it has; so what explains it? That is the e ssential challenge for my study. Responsiveness and state legitimacy: As I mentioned in Chapter 2, it is crucial to understand how the state is seen an d treated by each perspective in order to explain how neither consolidation nor growth happened. After all, this critical issue of the state is where the two perspectives sharply differ and the point th is study has to address. Once understood theoretically, the tensi on between the two processes is clar ified providing a better optic through which to interpret not only why consolidation has stal led but also why econo mic growth remains elusive. Arguably, the state is still the essential politi cal structure in Africa (Villalon & Huxtable, 1998; Englebert, 2000). The IFIs and donor commun ity certainly must believe so since they

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185 pushed for democratic transition by linking pol itical conditionalities to further economic assistance. This was especially true for Malawi. Support for Malawis one-party state came down with the Berlin Wall when at that time, the donor community said no democracy; no aid in 1992 (Ihonvbere, 1997). Donors steadfastly believe d that a democratic state would result in accountable, transparent institut ions and in effect usher in good governance (Posner, 1995). From the donors standpoint, it was now vital that the deliv ery of aid and loans go through accountable and transparen t state institutions. However, donor perceptions of the state in Africa had limitations. Important contingencies and contextual factor s were not fully absorbed which were the first in a series of missteps that placed Malawi as well as other Afri can countries in their cu rrent condition. One of the most important factors has to do with the diffic ulty of establishing aut hority. In the past, the state faced great challenges as pol itical leaders attempted to stre tch the state authority over vast regions (Bratton, 2004; Herbst, 2000). However, even with democracy, it is still a formidable challenge. Perhaps to better illustrate the point in the context of Africa, it is necessary to understand that for the most part the state in Africas post-indepe ndence history is a history of state failure. As a result, African states have been characterized as weak with very limited legitimacy and authority (Hyden, 1983). Thus, a larg e consensus agreed that the state needed to be reformed if development is to take place and that is the task for democracy. Democracy was believed to be better at meeting the challenge of stretching state authority, especially if the democratic regime was successf ul in addressing basic needs and livelihoods. Doing so would signifi cantly increase state legitimacy in the eyes of the population and broaden acceptance of state policies and decisions What we have then is this idea that a democratic state with accountable leadership and transparent institutions would have

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186 significantly greater legitimacy because it was responding to peoples needs. Aid would be channeled through the new, transp arent institutions responding to the will of the people. In essence, stretching state aut hority would be much easier. As often is the case, when theory is put into practice the outcome is often varies from what was expected. In Africa, the past is cer tainly not prologue but it does have a nagging dimension to it. Considering the recent predator y history of the state and the way state-society relations were shaped, the reform challenge is even more daunting. It is perfectly understandable if citizens harbor deep distrust and are reluctant to enter into a bargain with the state, even if it is a democratic bargain. Yet, if demo cracy is to consolidate, they must be enticed to do just that. Unless citizens are willing to give the state the authority struct ures in order that legitimate decisions and policies can be implemented, development will be difficult at best. Democracy has to prove itself in the eyes of the citizens if it has any chance of providing the antidote to these past unsavory tendencies. The remedy lies in the essence of what democracy is: the ability to hold leaders accountable. Democracy has many features that make it desirable, but I would argue that accountability is the keystone th at holds the arch together. Accountability provides a democratic state its au thority to make legitimate decisions. I believe as Bratton does that legitimacy is a product of democratization (Bratton 2004: 2). That being said, state legitimacy is not an eas y undertaking in sub-Saharan Africa; it is a particularly difficult challenge for new democraci es. Yet, consolidation depends on it. The question is how one goes about ensuring that democratization builds state legitimacy? Democratization alone cannot be taken for granted in the task of building state legitimacy. Many recent scholarly works remind us of how easy it is for democratization to end up as something different from a consolidated democracy (D iamond, 2002; Barkan, 2002). It might be more

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187 fruitful for our understanding to conceptualize de mocratization as a check list with a number of things to do in order to be considered legitima te. One of those is government responsiveness. As my research shows in Chapter 5, government responsiveness or effectiveness affects peoples opinion on the promise of democracy. From that, we could infer that responsiveness influences and affects legitimacy. What ha ppens to legitimacy when a demo cracy is deemed unresponsive? If people perceive a regime as ineffective and un responsive, how likely are they to see legitimacy in state institutions that necessitate granting those institutions the authority in order to carry out their mission? This study makes a strong case that government response to peoples needs is a crucial factor in obtaining state legiti macy. Without legitimacy, it is hard to see how democracy can consolidate and how its institut ions can function. Instead, th e state remains detached from society and if it cannot be overthrown, then something to be avoided. With such a relationship, implementing policies are difficult if not nearly impossible and the cost of enforcing policies becomes prohibitive. It is safe to say that effectiveness is the nexus where democracy and state legitimacy meet. Like all regimes, democratic ones are he ld to basic standards against which they are judged. For new democracies delivering the goods ranks high. Failing to meet this criterion may not imperil democracy per se but for consolid ation, that is another matter. Moreover, consolidation becomes even more tenuous where poverty is high because demands can be beyond the capacity of the state. The realitie s require new democracies to prioritize demands, such as basic material needs, that are vital fo r consolidation to occur and then carefully use scarce resources. Failing to do so does not necessarily mean people are ready to throw the democracy out the window the baby with the bath water but it most likely will derail

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188 consolidation. Elites may exploit the opportunity with increasing clientalism and corruption. It is not as if clientalism and corruption do not already exist; the point is that proponents of democracy see democratic governance as a way of improving socio-po litical relations by developing more efficient and effective institutions. In Malawis case, other factors also need to be considered. Malawis own experience with the state is unique when compared to mo st other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and deserves some comment. Whereas most states in sub-Saharan Africa never could extend their reach much beyond the cities, the one party st ate of Banda and the MCP was an exception (Ihonvbere, 1997). It was able to pe netrate right down into every village in the country. Banda and the MCP was everywhere and with the Mala wi Young Pioneers at the ready, the reach did not exceed the grasp. Malawi under Banda was a st rong state and in this respect, it was rare. All this changed in May 1994 when the firs t multiparty election was held. Democracy came with great enthusiasm and ev en greater expectations. Lost in the euphoria back then and for several years after was the realization that the st ate itself was at a crossroads. What kind of a state would emerge from the oppressi ve and abusive state of the past remained to be seen. With recent memory taunted by an especially brutalizi ng state, the newly elected democratic regime had to carefully chart a path to overcome distru st and fear. One method that could push that process along is responding to the material need s of the people. It is an effective way to democratic consolidation Up to this point, the discussion centers on democracys task in building state legitimacy in sub-Saharan Africa in general and Malawi in particular. Base d on a history of unsavory statesociety relations, the task of consolidation is formidable for Africas new democracies.

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189 However, the task becomes even more so due to the perception of the st ate by the IFIs and donor community. As discussed in Chapter 2, it is a well know n that neoliberal economic theory does not have a charitable view of the state. Regard ing sub-Saharan Africa, a more accurate sentiment would be hostile. Past state meddling in th e economy, rent-seeking behavior of elites, neopatrimonialism, and other practices that ensu red personal enrichment of the regime at the expense of society provide justification for this view. Therefore, removing some policies that could tempt leaders into recidivism is a basic prescription of neoliberal ism and the SAPs based on it. The fundamental logic behind structural adjustment policies is that Malawi, like all poor, indebted countries has to pay b ack its debt. Macroeconomic restructuring is designed to help Malawis economy start functi oning so growth can proceed an d pay off the debt with less external support. To make certain that this is a likely outcome, a sma ller, weakened state is prescribed. It is also in the be st interests of the creditors. In essence, we have a context where neoliberalism provides the theory while SAPs supply the means. One significant assumption within neoliberalis m is the belief that a weak state, although democratic, can provide good governance that esta blishes an environment conducive to this growth. As this dissertation demonstrates, th e premise of a weak state and good governance has serious flaws starting with structural adjustment policymaking. Since it is an unaccountable and non-transparent process, one wonde r as to how good governance can emerge from that situation. Suspicion increases when we consider that this idea of a weakened state with reduced capabilities intuitively runs counter to what new democracies need to do in order to consolidate. Moreover, there is still much debate about wh ether democracy fosters or hinders economic growth (Przeworski & Limongi, 1993) or whether it is more likely that economic development

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190 is essential for democracy to endure (Kaplan, 1997; Lipset, 1959; Gasiorowski & Power, 1998). What we do know is that poor governance can do great harm to economic growth. The economic crisis in South East Asia in the late 1990s is instructive on this point. In that instance, poor governance, with its lack of accountability and transparency, derailed economic growth throwing societies into turmoil (Cheema, 2005; Sen, 1999). As far as crisis goes, except for the speed with which the crisis unfolded in Asia, Malawis economic growth has also been derailed. Malawis crisis is a slow and interminable one but a crisis nonetheless. However, unlike Asia, there is not much distance for her economy to fall before hitting bottom. Growth has not occurred in an environment far from conducive for it to happen. Yet, we are led to the same c onclusion about the quality of governance in Malawi as in Asia prior to the crisis. The push for democratic consolidation understa ndably has a much different view of the role of the state because its priori ties are different. Here the role of the state is indispensable for consolidation. To understand the difference between neoliberalism and demo cratic consolidation have regarding the role of the sate we have to expand our understanding of development. For consolidation, development entails much more than just economic growth. This is the essential point that the IFIs miss in their neoliberal paradigm. How democracy, development and the role of th e state all come together starts with the idea that development encompasses the broade r idea of human development which entails enlarging peoples choices (UNDP/HDI, 2000). Making the case for democracy, Cheema argues that the expansion of cap abilities and participation means democracy goes to the very heart of human development (Cheema, 2005: 7) Improving human conditions in the long term is sustained and effective where the affected group is involved at all levels of the decision

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191 making process and for the poor, their effective participation in decisions that affect their lives.is most completely realized through democratic regimes (Cheema, 2005: 8). Democratic states are much more capable at addressing this la rger understanding of human development. By their nature, democratic states are much more likely to connect with society through policies and programs that pe ople feel are responding to their needs. Democracies offer people four important and re lated opportunities to im prove their condition. First, the state is seen as capable of respons iveness. Democratic regimes understand very well that if they wish to remain in power, they need to act in accordance with popular demands. Second, a democratic state is st ructurally decentralized. Pol itical power is dispersed among various institutions providing diverse groups di fferent access points to the state. Third, democratic states are intrinsically committed to improving human development. In this regard, which follows from the other two, the essential role of the state comes to bear. Through policies and programs that respond to peoples needs, de mocratic government is much more likely to bring improvements along a number issues such as improving access to health care, combating illiteracy, ending hunger a nd relieving poverty. Finally, democratic government is empoweri ng. Human development means nothing if people are not free from an abusive state. Th e foundational values of democratic government the rule of law, protection of human rights, sharing power are also conducive to people, including the poor, of choosing the ways and mean s for improving their lives and in the process people discover that they can make those in power listen to them. On all these fronts, democratic governments are qualitatively better in sust aining and enabling human development. Thus, the state has a much larger task and is the key player for development. In such an environment, a democratic state connects with societ y. People feel that a state that is concerned

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192 about them is a state (and system of govern ment) worth defending. As I tell my students, responsive government gives peop le a stake in the state. It is clear that such an e xpanded view of development requires a different role of the state. Democracy requires a state that is flexible enough to respond and enhance human development. As such, it runs counter to th e neoliberals own general view of the state. Moreover, neoliberals have a practical problem with it as well because of the difficulty of including these factors in the economist modeling that dominates the field. Succinctly put, the conflict over the role of the state comes down to the difference between neoliberal state retreat versus democratic state reform. In this lies the core of the problem. By shrinking the state neoliberalism removes the means and tools by which democracy encounters and reforms the state. Consolidation becomes the innocent victim. Instead of a consolidated democracy, what results is an unresponsive government in which people have little faith. How is it that democracy has lost this fight to neoliberalism? The answer can be boiled down to the way power is structured in our glob alized world. Malawi is a highly indebted poor country in critical need of suppor t from the IFIs and internatio nal donors. Without it, Malawi would likely collapse. She has little choice but to follow the program however difficult and no matter the cost. Larry Diamond states If Africa is going to develop, politically and economically, it will have to do so democratically (Diamond, 2000: 4). Few would find any fault with his sentiment. However, he goes on to argue that democracy and development are e ssentially bound together and that development must come with conditi ons: debt for democracy and development for good governance (ibid: 37). Furthermore, he cal ls for the greater proportion of development assistance should go towards developing the po litical foundations for development is a

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193 democratic, accountable state and vigorous civil so ciety committed to reform (ibid: 38). It is here that we see emerge the same blindness that the IFIs suffer from. In this widely held view, the fault lies solely with the African governments and the solution comes from abroad and above. Like so many Africanists, Diamonds concern for Africa is genuine and deep but, without seeing the interplay and divergence caused by structural adjustment policie s, his blurred vision begs the question of how does democracy develop when l eaders are precluded from responding to the governed? For poor countries, economic development is essential if democracy for survival. Przeworski et al. found that economic development st rongly correlates with democracy enduring once it is st arted (Przeworski et al. 1996; 2000). Along with Diamond, they argue that increasing levels of per capita income will si gnificantly affect the likelihood of a democracy surviving. Even so, it would be misleading to suggest that economic development is the only factor that affects democracy (Diamond, 2000). For example, it is instructive that the prospects for democracy improves significantly in poor count ries if they can sustain economic growth while experiencing low to moderate inflation (Przeworski et al ., 1996). Specific structural adjustment policies addressing infl ationary pressures are therefore necessary. Just as we would not want to throw the democracy baby out with the bath water, no one would say that because of one or a few misguided policies, the struct ural adjustment baby should precede the discarded policies. That being said, the argument against state re treat is even more vital because necessary structural economic reform is also jeopardized by it. Following the path of state retreat not only derails consolidation but also it creates opportunities for the types and practices of elite behavior of the past that could keep consolidation from getting back on track. This in turn will hinder

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194 compliance with and even implementation of important economic policies. Elite behavior is therefore an important component in dealing with the study of de mocratic consolidation and the establishment of viable democratic institutions as key. Important as elite behavior is, we must not miss the essential point that the institutiona l development found in a consolidated democracy severely restricts and structures elite behavior including actin g as a control on corruption (Lindberg, 2006b: 153). It therefore seems clear that the path to c onsolidation should be as smooth and clear as possible and not create obstacles as some of the SAPs have done. That is not the case. Instead, as argued in this dissertation, a contradiction inherent in SA Ps further impairs democratic consolidation. That contradic tion is that through state retrea t neither economic growth nor democratic consolidation takes place. Polic ies removed from consideration by institutions external to the democratic policy process, such as fertilizer subsidies, not only take a toll on rural populations living standards but contribute greatly to deteriorating faith in democratic governance. In such an arrangement, it should be to no ones surprise that disillusionment with both leaders and democracy itself would set in. What follows disillusionment is anybodys guess but the resurgence of clientalism and personalistic politics is ma king ever-deeper inroads. It is therefore essential for proponents of SAPs to understand that consolidation is a much more complex process than the processes that take place in early democratiz ation. Why is that? For one consolidation requires much more prof ound change involving the institutionalization of various organizations and procedur es that assist in making govern ment transparent, accountable and responsive (Sandbrook, 1996). Additionally and pe rhaps the litmus test of consolidation is when all the major political actors not only come to accept the democratic rules of the game but

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195 more importantly come to value, and hen ce defend, the rules that underpin democratic organizations and procedures (Sandbrook, 1996: 86). These institutionalized rules and structures are vital because they moderate the tendency of elected officials to increase their personal power After all, it seems more the rule than the exception that elected presidents and officials dis like limits on power. It is their inclination to weaken these limiting structures and using in timidation, cooptation, and the distribution of patronage as effective methods to do so. When SAPs remove certain policies from political deliberation, they are in effect weakening the structures and or ganizations that make government responsive and accountable. In that effort, they not only derail consolidation but also open the door for patronage, clientalism and the return of personalistic politics. I have suggested that the tw o waves of change democracy and economic structural reform are not working towards the same end in the Malawian context. The problem began with emphasizing economic growth and limiting de mocratic responsiveness. Reform policies became ever more destructive when the prescriptions for Malawis economic recovery were the same ones applied across the developing world as if all countries are the same. What were lost in the process are the unique challenges and requir ements that need to be specifically addressed. Instead, decisions are made in Washington based on a realty that does no t exist and has nothing to do with those purportedly being helped (Reinert, 2007). There is no need to consider contextual concerns because they do not matter. If there is one bene fit from pressing this economic ideology onto the poor regardless of where they live or what thei r situation, it goes to the development economists as published papers in peer-reviewed journals that lend credence to their theories and in turn enhance reputations Obviously, it does nothi ng to help the poor.

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196 In Malawis real world, povert y is the predominant factor in politics and needs to be addressed with coherent, practical policies. Even as the Bishops Past oral Letter of 1992 awoke democratic urges in the population it also addressed the stark ine qualities associated with the everyday life of the majority of people. For bot h the urban and rural poor the call for political liberalization in 1992 was seen as a positive step leading to economic improvement as well. Unfortunately, the policies and politics that gove rn the country not only sustained poverty but also worsened it. As Malawi tries to consolidate it is esse ntial to understand th e immense challenges confronting democratic consolid ation. As discussed above and in Chapter 2, new democracies need to show that they can be more responsive, more just, more transparent, and more effective than the authoritarian regime they replace. Pz reworski et.al (2000) warns that weakening the state may result in neither economic growth nor de mocratic consolidation. With that warning in mind, it is fair to say that because of a polic y environment that is neither transparent nor accountable, Pzreworskis warni ng was born out in Malawi. A Different Approach: Reinstating the Fertilizer Subsidy 2006 Since the tim e of this res earch, Malawi experienced ever-worsening conditions. A couple of sever droughts, particularly the one in 2005, put millions of people into famine. In 2002, the IMF pressured the government to sell its maize rese rve to help pay back debt leaving the country ill-prepared when another drought struck much of the nation the following year (Dorward & Kydd, 2004; Deveraux, 2002b; Deveraux, 2002c; BBC NewsOnline, May14, 2002; CSM/Itano, May 15, 2002). In another instance of bowing to donor pressure, the popular Starter Pack program where farmers would receive 10 kgs of fe rtilizer, 2 kgs of hybrid seed, and some pulses such as beans that was drastically cut back and replaced with the TIP program the next year. By

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197 the time the election rolled ar ound in 2004, peoples interest in voting dropped significantly, as reported in the previous chapter. In 2004, Bingu wa Mutharika became Malawis second democratically elected President after Muluzis attempt to change the Constitutio ns term limitation failed. Mutharika was hand picked by Muluzi who wanted someone who Muluzi felt would continue to do his bidding from behind the scenes. Muluzi had to have felt ve ry much at ease as he looked upon Mutharika taking the oath of office. Mutharika was, after all, old and to many, much more intellectual than political. In a matter of months, not only Mulu zi but also the entire donor community would realize that here was a leader. There is a story and a lesson here. Mutharikas transformation started early e nough when he opened up an investigation of corruption involving Muluzi, who remained head of the UDF. He also withdrew from the UDF and started a new political party, the Democra tic Peoples Party. Free from UDF control and Muluzi boxed in, Mutharika was to witness anothe r disastrous harvest in 2005 that left 5 million out of 12 million Malawians in need of food aid (New York Times\Dugger, Dec. 2, 2007). The suffering he witnessed was nothing new for Mala wians yet to Mutharika it was enough. As long as he was president he declared, I dont want to be going to other capi tals begging for food. He decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached (ibid.). Muthariks reintroduced fertilizer subsidies as well as subsid ies on seed and a few other inputs. The subsidy on fertilizer was the deepest by almost 70%. The results speak for themselves. Malawis farmers produced record-breaking corn harvests in 2006 and 2007. According to Times article in 2006 the harvest was 2.7 million tons and 3.4 million in 2007 compared to 1.2 million in 2005. Percentages are useful here: 2006 was 225% higher than 2005 and 2007 was 126% higher than 2006 and 283% greater than 2005.

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198 Malawi sold the excess to neighboring countries and the World Food Program earning an estimated return of $120 to $140 million at a cost of $74 million a return of 162%. It is worth noting that Great Britain contributed $8 m illion to the subsidy program while USAID, philosophically opposed to governme nt interventions, contributed not hing except to underwrite the cost of evaluation. Benjamin Barber in a Los Angeles Times article calls what Mutharika did The Malawian Revolution calling the subsidy program a revolt against the supposedly free trade conditions set by foreign-aid donors (Barber, LA Times, 2008). However, it is less a revolt and more of a rebellion against free trade. The revol ution is, as Barber right ly points out, against the the pernicious effect of donor hypocrisy that bans poor countr ies from doing what they do: subsidize agriculture (Barber, 2008). There are many lessons to be learned from Bi ngu wa Mutharikas challenge to the IFIs and foreign donor development ideology. For one, we can reorient our thinking about subsidies from considering them as a distortion in the market to viewing them as an investment in economic growth. To do this, it is necessary to see Malawi for what it is: a poor country heavily dependent on agriculture. This is the unformed clay development has to work with. If Malawi is to develop, then agriculture has to lead the wa y. On this point, everyone agrees. Disagreement is on how it should do it. Up until now, the policies of the IFIs and supported by the donor community have failed. There are many factors to consider in analyz ing why but it really comes down to two very destructive reasons. The first is a development policy that is lock ed in an ideology that praises free markets while disparaging state intervention s. Prohibiting governments from addressing the basic needs and survival of its people because of ideological blinders is simply foolish. The

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199 consequences of such blindness are seen in the toll it takes on poor people and that toll cannot ever be quantified. There is no way of pu tting a cost on a child stunted by malnutrition, illiterate because schools cannot pay teachers and fees are prohibitive, weakened by vitamin deficiencies and sickened by prev entable diseases. Economists have no measure for the cost of famine, starvation, or constant hunger on a family. This raises the question of how can we be so sure of the figures that show th e benefits of structural adjustment when the total costs cannot be measured? Looking at subsidies as an investment opens up many possibilities. To make this argument, we could look at the model of develo pment the Asian Tigers followed. Essentially, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea were given great latit ude with policy making in order to protect her infant industries until they were strong enough to compete with the US and Europe. These countries were able to adopt a growth strategy that was export led and they succeeded. However, to get there, the government established an environment that was protected from foreign competition while at the same time, providing th e necessary loans, investments and any other interventions to industries targ eted as the ones to lead th e country to prosperity. The essential point is that government collabor ated with certain key industries it felt the future lay providing lower than market priced lo ans and other forms of help. Malawi can follow the same model but instead of industry, it is agricu lture. Subsidies as an investment could give Malawi the economic benefit of earning a positiv e cash flow on her investment. The last two years prove that works. Of course, there are concerns but the worl d markets are moving in Malawis favor and she needs to take advantage of it. At the time of this writing, two developments are lowering the risk of subsidizing. First, the price of food is ra pidly rising due to shortages. Malawis surpluses

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200 should take advantage of this by earning a premiu m on the market while supplying it would also help bring prices down. As long as the price rema ins higher than the subs idy, the investment is positive. Second, with the rapid shift of US and Eu ropean corn going into biofuels, the market is short and is projected to remain so for some time. Therefore, the World Food Programs stock is depleted representing another niche for Malawi and other countries to begin exploit. Both of these opportunities lessen the risk of su bsidizing fertilizer. If the success of the last few years can be maintained even at half th e rate, Malawi will be ab le to export her way to growth, that elusive goal of the IFIs. The second lesson concerns politics and more precisely, democratic consolidation. On this point, I can only point to opportunities for further research but nonetheless offer some tantalizing insights. Mutharika s revolution by reinstating the fertilizer subsidy has major political potential. By establishing a new party that is not regionally based and instituting a national policy with reintroducing fertilizer s ubsidies, Mutharika may in effect have put consolidation back on track. I suggest this because the policy addresses th e three problems identified by the majority of Malawians. Furthermore, respondents identified fertilizer as the first thing government needed to do to combat their poverty and hunger. Mutharikas polic y is a perfect fit. Even if some donors remain skeptical, fert ilizer subsidies are good policy. What can good policy do? Politically, it should dr aw voters to your side. This represents an interesting area for further exploration. The policy is popular, but will people leave their regionally based parties and join the DPP? If that is the case, then Mutharikas good policy also becomes good politics. Moreover, the DPP is a national party and this would cause the other

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201 parties to consider strategies a nd policies in order to compete w ith the DPP, in effect lessening regionalism in Malawi. Finally, all of this could lead to good governance and good governance is where consolidation resides. It might sound overly simple but good policy makes good politics, which makes good governance. It is an uncomplicated hypot hesis that is worth fu rther research. At this point, no one can know for sure what the political upshot is in Malawi. However, if my speculation is correct, th en the economic growth the IFIs hoped to achieve with structural adjustment and the promises that came with democr acy might finally happen. It is a tall order, but we can only know with further research. I started this dissertation with a story and I want to end it wi th a story. One of the very first women I interviewed in 1997 was Fannie Usi. She was 65 years old at the time but very feisty. She was a widow with three adult child ren and nine grandchild ren but she lived alone. Although she missed her husband, Fannie seemed settled in the fact that her children would take care of her as she grew older. Her life was by no means easy but it was taking a predictable course. Fannies personality is what drew me to he r. Spirited, feisty, and witty, I will always remember how she looked at me. At the start of the interview, she scol ded me for not speaking Yao (her ethnic language) so I co uld do a proper interview. As I looked at her, her eyes captured me. They were dark and gentle yet her gaze spoke of confidence and strength. They danced with delight as she kidded and lectured me. So me of my questions caused her head to bounce this way and that rolling her eyes as she turned towards the others who had gathered around making a comment that evoked much laughter. I ma y have been the object of her joking yet she made me know it was all in good fun. As I was getting ready to leave, Fannie placed her hand

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202 on my arm, looked directly up at me and wrinkling her forehead as she waved her finger at me as she demanded I come back so she can teach me how to speak properly. The slight smile on her face would have been enough for me to promise that I would. I did come back in 1998 only to find Fannie a very different person. She was much thinner, her hair more grey, but it was what was missing in her eyes that hit me the hardest. They had none of the spark, the fire, the beam. I knew she remembered me because she asked if I had learned Yao. Having an interpreter answ ered the question. When she told me what happened since we first met, I could understand why she looked so defeated. In just over a year, her three children died leaving her with the grandchildren. She was deeply worried for her grandchildren. She had less than a hectare of la nd to grow enough maize to feed everyone and she was old and tired. Amazingly, she did not ask for anything. She just wondered how it would all turn out. I sat with her for a while but ther e was nothing in me. I left her but returned the next day with two 50 kg bags of fertilizer. She thanked me and said I should come back so she could teach me Yao and then I co uld do proper interviews. Then I thanked her but not for letting me into her house or even briefly into her life. I was thankful for that but I was thanking her for something much greater. She changed me. As I pulled away, the question came back: if this is development then I wonder what no development looks like? We should not judge all adjustment policies in the harsh light I cast. However, the removal of the fertilizer subsidy while devalu ing the kwacha illustrate s a specific policy that, unintended as it was, has significa ntly deteriorated peoples lives and worn down their faith in democracy. I cannot understand the economic rationa le behind these policies in a country where the soils are severely depleted and 80% of the people depend on agriculture, the majority of it subsistence. It becomes even more puzzling when the country is suppose to export its way to

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203 growth (after paying its debt) a nd agriculture is the most import ant sector. To both the layman like myself and the rural producers it is hard to fathom the thinking that led to such a policy. As I close this dissertation, I am left w ith these and many other questions. I have no silver bullet to reverse the fortunes of so many. If I did, I wo uld be out in Malawi somewhere or in Washington, D.C. vigorously implementing my policies. Unfortunately, I only have meager suggestions. Much like the headline I saw in a paper while in Malawi saying We Cant Eat Development, the same applies here. Fannie Usi, the headmans wife with the near empty nkokwe, the young prostitutes in Lilongwe, the boy I named Sisyphus in Blantyre I see them all as metaphors of Malawis impossible task of development as spelled out in th e neoliberal paradigm before her. Their faces are the faces of failure; a failure of policies and broken promises and certainly not of individuals asked to bear the burden that is grinding down their lives. There is something wrong when peoples lives are simply discarded as if they are worthless. It is as if they have no value, no meaning to those in power, whether in Lilongwe or in Washington. We need to do better. If the gods in Wash ington condemned Sisyphus to roll a rock up a hill, then can we not at leas t try to lessen the incline?

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204 LIST OF REFERENCES Abraham sen, R. (2000). Disciplining democracy: Development discourse and good governance in Africa. London: Zed Books. Acharya, S. (1981). Perspectives and probl ems of development in sub-Saharan Africa, World Development, 19(2), 109-147. ActionAid USA (2002). Death by starvation in Malawi: the link between macro-economic & structural policies and the agricultural disaster in Malawi. http://www.actionaid.org/newsandmedia/malawi.shtm. Adedeji, A. (1988). Structural adjustment with a human face. African Farmer no.1 pp. 52-53. Adedeji, A. (1989). Interaction between structuralism, structural adjustment and food security policies in development policy management, ECDPM Occasional Paper Maastricht. Africa_News Network. AfricaNN@informbbs.dk Date: Nov. 20, 1997,14:00:41 +0100 Subject: Malawi. http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Newsletters/mno37.html. Africa Research Institute. (2007). Making fertilizer subsidies work in Malawi. Briefing note 0703. December. http://www.crookedlimb.net/ARI/pdfs/ Making%20fertiliser%.20subsidies%20work%20in%20Malawi%20%20Briefing%20Note-c61bad66ae.pdf Ake, C. (1996). Dem ocracy and Development in Africa. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institute. Alamgir, M. & Arora, P. (1991). Providing food security for all. International Fund for Agricultural Development. New York: New York University Press Almond, G. & Powell, G. B. (1966). C omparative politics: a developmental approach. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. Arizo-Nino, E. (1991). Women farmers and agricultural policies in Malawi Report For USAID/PPC/WID. Arrighi, G. (2002). The African cr isis: World systemic and regional aspects. Paper presented at the conference on The Political Economy of Africa Revisited. Institute for Global Studies, Johns Hopkins University. April. Ayittey, G. (2005). Africa unchained: The blueprint for Africas future New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ayittey, G. (1998). Africa in chaos. New York: St. Martins Press.

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205 Bangura, Y. & Gibbon, P. (1992). Introduction. P. Gibbon, Y. Bangura & A. Ofstad (Eds.), Authoritariansim, democracy and adjustment: Th e politics of economic reform in Africa. Seminar Proceeding No. 26, Uppsala: The Sca ndinavian Institute of African Studies. Barber, B. (2008). Malawis Free Trade Revolt. The LA Times, January 9, 2008. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la -oe-barber9jan09,0,7680407.story?coll=laopinion-rightrail. Barkan, J. (2002). The many faces of Afri ca: Democracy across a varied continent. Harvard International Review. June Barkan, J. (2000). Protracted trans itions among Africa's new democracies. Democratization, 7( 3), 227 243. Barratt-Brown, M. (1997). A frica's choices after thir ty years of the world bank Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Bates, R. (1981). Markets and states in tropical Africa : the political basis of agricultural polic ies Berkeley: University of California Press. Bayart, J. (1993). The State in Africa: Th e politics of the belly New York: Longman. BBC News Online. Malawis worst ever famine. Reported by Raphael Tenthani. May 14, 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/ hi/africa/1985765.stm. Beckman, B. (1992). Empowerment or repression? The World Bank and the politics of African Adjustment. Gibbon, P., Bangura, Y. and Ofstad, A. (Eds), Authoritariansim, democracy and adjustment: The politics of economic reform in Africa. Seminar Proceeding No. 26, Uppsala: The Scandanavian In stitute of African Studies. Benson, T. (1997). The 1995/96 fertilizer verification tria l Malawi: Economic analysis of results for policy discussion Report by Action Group I, Maize Productivity Task Force. Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Government of Malawi, Lilongwe. Bhalla, A., Chipeta, C., Taye, H. & Mkanawir e, M. (2000). Globaliz ation and sustainable human development: Progress and challenges for Malawi. Occasional paper UNCTAD/UNDP. Bienen, H. and J. Herbst (1996). The relations hip between political a nd economic reform in Africa. Comparative Politics 29(1), 23. Boserup, E. (1970). Woman's role in economic development St. Martin's Press, New York. Bratton, M. (2004). State building and democr atization in sub-saharan Africa: Forwards, backwards, or together? Working Paper No. 43, Afrobarometer Working Papers. Bratton, M., Mattes, R. & Gyimah-Boadi, E. (2005). Public opinion, democracy and market reform in Africa Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press

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222 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Robert Uttaro graduated in 1974 from St. John Fisher College with a B.A. in history. After graduation, he started a career in the newspaper until 1983 w hen he decided to search for a meaningful life. He worked in a variety of careers until becoming Associate Dean of Students at his alma mater. He left St. John Fisher in 1986 joining his brother-in-law to open a small restaurant in Bradenton, Florida. In 1991, he had enough with the restaurant busin ess and finally decided to pursue his graduate e ducation at the University of Flor ida. He received his MA in International Development Policy and Administration in 1994. He began his doctoral studies in the Department of Political Scie nce at the University of Florid a in 1995. Uttaro specializes in international development policy and administration and comparative politics. His first love is teaching and he currently is a visiting instructor at the William and Grace Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication as well as an Assistan t Adjunct Professor at Santa Fe Community College. And yes, he has found meaning in his life.