Sightsavers in Malawi

We work with the government and partners in Malawi and countries across Africa to deliver vital charity work and make sure everyone can claim their rights.

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa, which the Great Rift Valley runs through.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, with more than 70 per cent of the population thought to be living in poverty. The country’s economy and its citizens are reliant on agriculture, making them increasingly vulnerable to climate change

Primary health care is free in Malawi, and the country is gradually moving towards universal health coverage. While most people live in rural areas, they are still able to access health care near their homes. However, essential resources are not evenly distributed, and there is a nationwide lack of skilled staff.

In 2012, the government enacted the Disability Act to recognise and protect the rights of people with disabilities. Despite this, many people with disabilities still face discrimination and struggle to find work.

Facts about Malawi

  • Population: 21 million
  • Capital: Lilongwe
  • Official language: English
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 169 (low)

How we’re making a difference in Malawi

69,000 people in Malawi are thought to be blind

2.4 million people are at risk from river blindness

11.6% of the population has a disability

Sources: IAPB, ESPEN, Sociology of Health and Illness

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Community advocate Miriam walks through a field in Malawi.

What are the challenges in Malawi, and how can these be addressed?

Community advocate Miriam walks through a field in Malawi.

Eye care

Malawi’s eye health services are not adequately funded, and there’s a shortage of skilled staff.

Cataracts and glaucoma are two of the main causes of blindness in Malawi, with older adults most at risk of losing their sight. Sightsavers’ charity work in the country focuses on ensuring high-quality eye care services are available for all.

Ophthalmologist Moira performs an eye operation.

Our eye care work in Malawi

Free eye screening

Regular screening can check people for eye conditions and refer them for treatment. Our eye screening work often targets marginalised groups.
Our inclusive eye care services

Training staff

We’re helping to train doctors and ophthalmic surgeons to boost Malawi’s health care sector and ensure patients receive timely, quality care.
Meet ophthalmologist Moira


Collecting data about the causes and prevalence of visual impairment and blindness helps us learn where our support is needed.
About our in-house research team

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Inclusion and equality

Just 0.9% of people with disabilities in Malawi are employed.

People with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty and often have difficulty accessing education, health care and employment. Our charity work on disability rights in Malawi focuses on on ensuring that everyone has the chance to learn, earn and take their place in society.

Nora teaching Glory, one of her students, how to count.

Our inclusion work in Malawi

Inclusive education

Sightsavers works with local governments, schools and parents to make schools more inclusive and reduce social stigma around disability.
Our early years schools programme

Economic empowerment

We’re improving financial inclusion for farmers and entrepreneurs with disabilities so they can access resources to develop their businesses.
About our employment work

Working in collaboration

Sightsavers partners with organisations of people with disabilities so people with disabilities are included and can help shape local development.
Our disability rights work

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Mary smiles after her eye operation.

“Before, I had problems with writing, matching the words and then writing. Now I can see again, I’ll be able to write properly in my exam books.”

Mary smiles after her eye operation.
Mary, aged 10, from Neno in southern Malawi. Her vision was restored after two cataract operations. Read her story

How you can help

Our work in Malawi has already helped to eliminate the disease trachoma, but there’s still more we need to do.

With your support, we want to expand our inclusive eye care services and ensure everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential. To do this, we need your help.

Charity donations, legacies, corporate partnerships and gifts from charitable foundations are a vital source of funding for our programmes in Malawi. We also welcome opportunities to work in partnership with governments, institutions and development organisations.

Contact us: If you have any questions about our work in Malawi, would like more information about our programmes or wish to discuss ways you can donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from Malawi

A boy wearing a bright blue shirt washes his face using water from a tap.

Sightsavers research project aims to map the impact of climate change on NTDs

Led by Sightsavers and the Walker Institute, the project will work with the Malawian government to explore a range of future scenarios, and what these would mean for its efforts to curb NTDs.

November 2023
Ophthalmologist Moira performs an eye operation.
Sightsavers Reports

A day in the life: “You really feel that you’ve made a difference”

Dr Moira Chinthambi received a Sightsavers scholarship to train as an ophthalmologist and now works on our inclusive eye health programme in Malawi.

Sightsavers Reports

A day in the life: “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time”

Alinafe Zaina is studying clinical ophthalmology in Malawi with the help of a scholarship provided by Sightsavers’ inclusive eye health programme.

An older man smiles as he holds his right hand over his eye during an eye test.
Sightsavers Reports

We are… creating inclusive eye health services 

We’re working with governments in Uganda and Malawi to improve access to quality eye care services and prevent avoidable blindness.

Nora in her classroom with a student who is in a wheelchair. Nora is holding her hands in the air, and the student is watching.
Sightsavers Reports

We are… ensuring pre-schools are inclusive

In Malawi, we work with partners to ensure young children with disabilities can learn, play and develop alongside their peers.

A montage of handwritten letters and photos from Malawi.
Sightsavers Reports

Letters from Malawi

Hear first-hand how people’s lives have been transformed now that trachoma has been eliminated in the country.

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work