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MALAWI: Churches join worldwide anti-poverty campaign

By Frank Jomo
[Ecumenical News International]  Churches in Malawi are gearing up their efforts in the fight against poverty by forming a local section of the Micah Challenge, a worldwide network of Christian relief, development and justice agencies.

"This is a Christian organization based on biblical beliefs," said Micah Challenge Malawi chairperson Vincent Chirwa. "The church did not want to just stand aside and look, but play a part."

The Micah Challenge was launched internationally in October 2004 by South African Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane to mobilize Christian support for the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.

These include halving the rate of "absolute global poverty" by 2015 and cover concerns such as economic and hunger issues and also education, gender equality, the environment and HIV/AIDS. 

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is expected to join church leaders in the capital Lilongwe for the official launch of Micah Challenge Malawi on October 15, the UN-sponsored International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

"We would want to play a watchdog role on how government formulates its policies to achieve its goals," said Chirwa, quoted in The Nation newspaper.

The 2005 UN Human Development Report indicates that Malawi is one of the 15 least developed countries in the world with 41.7 percent of its 12 million people living below the UN threshold of US$1 per day.