n Malawi Law Journal - Social security and poverty alleviation in Malawi : towards the recognition of umunthu as a constitutional principle
|Article Title||Social security and poverty alleviation in Malawi : towards the recognition of umunthu as a constitutional principle|
|© Publisher:||University of Cape Town|
|Journal||Malawi Law Journal|
|Affiliations||1 University of Malawi|
|Publication Date||Jan 2012|
|Pages||163 - 182|
Poverty is deep, widespread and severe in Malawi. 65.3 percent of the population is poor, representing 6.3 million people with 28.2 percent living in dire poverty and women constituting 52 percent of the poor. In this context, the importance of social security cannot be overemphasised. For most poor people, their survival depends on a mixture of plural social security systems which provide varying degrees of access. Within this context, the recognition of social security as a right and the availability of legal mechanisms for claiming such a right have formed an essential part of poverty alleviation measures. However, much as human rights principles have proven critical and contributed to increased access to social security for the poor, this article argues that, in the context of Malawi, there is a need to go beyond the human rights approach to social security to embracing 'umunthu' as a foundational principle. An analysis of poor people's lived realities and articulations of survival mechanisms shows that 'umunthu' is an important local value which could contribute to and facilitate the empowerment of the poor in accessing social security and therefore alleviating poverty, and probably needs to be formally and explicitly recognised not only as a core value in poverty alleviation efforts but, more importantly, also as a constitutional principle.
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