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Alcohol and poverty in Malawi

This project was developed and carried out in collaboration with researchers from Norway and Malawi and a reference group consisting of policy makers and stakeholders in Malawi. The study shed light on the association between alcohol misuse, social norms and poverty as well as alcohol policy in the Malawian context.

Contact person

Dr. Alister Munthali, the MoH and the Norwegian embassador. Photo: FORUT/Dag Endal

A link between alcohol misuse and poverty has been argued for in several studies. Policy and interventions that can effectively prevent alcohol misuse are expected to contribute to poverty reduction, and hence the development, implementation and enforcement of contextually relevant alcohol policies is crucial. For such policies to be effective, they need to be based on solid research data and evidence.

The 'Fighting Poverty Through Alcohol Misuse Prevention in Malawi' project has been developed and carried out in collaboration with a reference group consisting of policy makers, program executors and stakeholders. The overall aim of the project was to support the goals of the reference group by producing national data on alcohol misuse, and by contributing to increasing Malawi’s capacity to collect this data on a long-term basis through research collaboration and training.

Our main objective is to document, describe and explore patterns of alcohol use in the Malawian population.

Specific objectives

1. To study the prevalence of alcohol consumption and misuse in Malawi through a broad based survey, and to use this data to explore:

  • the association between alcohol use/misuse and different dimensions of poverty (i.e living standard, health and empowerment)
  • the association between alcohol use/misuse and gender
  • the general drinking pattern among adult population in Malawi

2. To explore people's opinions and experiences of current and future policy and interventions related to alcohol use

The project has been carried out through a serious of interlinked work packages (WP):

  • Method development (WP1)
  • Survey (WP2)
  • Qualitative study (WP3)
  • Influencing Policy & Practice & Dissemination (WP4)


Research Team:
The research team has been made up of participants from the following academic institutions in Norway and Malawi:

SINTEF Technology and society, Department of Health, Global health and welfare (project management):

  • Prof. Dr. Arne H. Eide ()
  • Stine Hellum Braathen ()
  • Gloria Azalde ()

University of Malawi, Centre for Social Research:

  • Dr. Alister Munthali ()
  • Massy Chiocha

National Statistical Office, Malawi:

  • Jameson Ndawala

University of Oslo, Department of Psychology:

  • Ass. Prof. Dr. Henrik Natvig ()

Hedmark University College:

  • Erik Hoel ()

Reference Group:
A reference group has been influential in the design of the research tools and in the dissemination of the research results. The reference group consisted of the following relevant government representatives, NGOs and multilateral organisations working in the field of alcohol and drug awareness, prevention and policy in Malawi:

  • FORUT, Norway ( (Contact: Dag Endal: )
  • National Statistical Office (NSO) of Malawi
  • NGO Gender Coordination Network, Malawi
  • Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drug Control (IMCDC), Malawi
  • Ministry of Health, Malawi
  • Drug Fight Malawi
  • Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance
  • Malawi Girl Guides Association
  • Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Malawi
  • Task Force for a National Alcohol Policy, Malawi
  • The Norwegian Church Aid, Malawi
  • The Church and Society CCAP, Nkhoma Synod, Malawi
  • WHO Country Office (Malawi)
  • WHO Regional Office for Africa

Key Factors

Project duration

01/01/2011 - 31/12/2013