Our work in Malawi

Sightsavers has been working in Malawi since the 1950s. Our focus in the country is to improve eye health, protect against blinding diseases and make sure children with disabilities receive the support they need.

A man is being led across a river by his wife. The water of the river is just below their knees.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries. Almost 85 per cent of the population lives in remote, rural communities that are far from the country’s few eye health centres.

It’s thought that more than 200,000 people in Malawi have visual impairments, with half caused by cataracts.

Sightsavers started working in Malawi in the 1950s. Much of our work in the country involves helping to improve eye care services, particularly in rural areas, so people with visual impairments can be diagnosed and treated.

In Malawi, 8.2 million people live in areas at risk of trachoma, and more than 33,000 people have the advanced stage of the disease that can lead to blindness. Sightsavers is working to eliminate trachoma and provides vital outreach to isolated communities, enabling health workers to reach as many people as possible.

We’re also training teachers to make sure children with disabilities are able to go to school and learn alongside their peers.

At a glance

Total population
  • 18 million

  • What we focus on
  • Cataracts
  • Trachoma
  • Education

    Key programmes
  • Cataract surgery
  • Tropical Data Project
  • A billion NTD treatments
  • CATCH: coordinated health

  • I am so happy. I can see what everyone is wearing – I can see all the colours. I am so thankful for this miracle!
    Nazondani, cataract patient from Malawi
    Nazondani smiles after her surgery.

    How we’re making a difference in Malawi

    Close up of Winesi's face smiling.

    Saving sight

    After years of struggle, Winesi has found happiness and hope for the future thanks to a cataract operation.
    Read Winesi’s story

    Three women standing together with a group of men in the background.

    Fighting disease

    Sightsavers' trachoma elimination programme launched in Malawi in 2014 to protect people from disease.
    Read about the programme

    Young children hold hands in a circle outside.

    Leaving no one behind

    We're training teachers and caregivers how to include children with disabilities in pre-school.
    Read the blog

    Your donation could help to protect sight


    More from Malawi

    A woman standing in a roomful of other people. She is covering one eye with her hand.
    Sightsavers blog

    How can Malawi overcome the final hurdle to eliminate trachoma?

    We have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that no one is left behind, but if we can eliminate one NTD, we can then focus on eliminating the others.

    Effie Kaminyoghe, July 2020
    A young man using a wheelchair on a road in Kenya.
    Sightsavers blog

    COVID-19: Africa’s economic recovery must leave no one behind

    Many people with disabilities work in the informal sector. Unless they can leave their house every day, they struggle to meet their basic needs. For them, the situation is dire.

    Edwinah Orowe, June 2020
    A man rides a bike with a child on the back.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Educating pre-school children when resources are scarce

    Sightsavers’ Ronnie Stapleton visited pre-schools across Malawi to train teachers how to include children with disabilities. She also learned a lot along the way.

    February 2020
    A man gives a young girl a ride on the back of his bicycle.

    Sightsavers receives Innovative Practice prize in Zero Project Awards

    Sightsavers won the award for its work supporting children with disabilities in Malawi.

    January 2020
    Illustration of children with disabilities playing outside of a prre-school in Malawi.
    Sightsavers Reports

    Training flipchart for the inclusion of children with disabilities in pre-schools in Malawi

    A course designed for caregivers on the inclusion of young children with disabilities in community-based childhood care centres in Malawi.

    Someone on crutches shakes a man's hand.
    Sightsavers blog

    Including people with disabilities in African political life

    Our research shows that a lack of education and financial resources, social stigma and inaccessible physical infrastructure mean fewer people with disabilities are participating in politics in Africa.

    Bhavisha Virendrakumar, October 2019
    Three women laughing together

    Sightsavers petition calls on government of Malawi to protect people with albinism

    It is estimated that there are over 134,600 people with albinism living in Malawi, many of whom face deep-seated discrimination.

    June 2019
    A man has his eyes checked at a screening camp in Kasungu, Malawi
    Sightsavers blog

    Treating hard-to-reach people: what we’ve learned from CATCH

    The Coordinated Approach to Community Health programme, which finished in March 2019, has restored the sight of more than 21,000 people and generated a wealth of knowledge.

    Moses Chege, May 2019
    Two medical staff clean eyes of men in traditional african dress.
    Sightsavers from the field

    November updates: highlights from around the world

    News about a programme that has distributed more than 137,000 pairs of glasses across eight countries. Plus updates from Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique and more.

    November 2018

    Winesi’s update

    Life is good for Winesi and his family, and it’s a far cry from when we first met him more than three years ago.

    Health worker Dr Anselmo is interviewed for the TV advert.
    Sightsavers from the field

    March highlights: updates from around the world

    Including news from Liberia, where Sightsavers has reopened an eye clinic that has been closed for two years. Plus updates from Senegal, Malawi and more.

    March 2018
    Three women sat outside talking.
    Sightsavers blog

    Keeping up political momentum on disability and development

    By hosting a summit, the UK government is committing to making disability-inclusive development a global priority. We must make sure this political momentum is not lost.

    Natasha Kennedy, December 2017

    We save sight in 30 countries worldwide

    Where we work