Economic Empowerment Pilot Project and Social Cohesion in Malawi

The study is part of the DIE project “Voraussetzungen für nachhaltige Entwicklung in Afrika: Politik für Soziale Kohäsion” (“Social Cohesion in Africa”). It analyses drivers of social cohesion and identifies policies that are likely to foster social cohesion. Through the EEP 10 village saving and loan (VSL) groups were created in 2016. This assessment aims at understanding whether any activities of these groups have affected mutual trust among the group members and have led to cooperation beyond the creation of group businesses. Additionally, it analyzes the financial sustainability of these groups in terms of ability to repay and survival of the groups, the financial literacy level of the members and tries to understand saving and loan uptake behavior. It does so through the implementation of a qualitative inquiry including focus group activities and individual interviews in order to investigate the functioning and inclusiveness of these groups.

The study highlights how exogenous and endogenous factors play a big role in the survival rate of all the considered VSLs. The EEP potential for creating social cohesion and improving the economic situation of the people involved suffered important drawbacks due to exogenous factors that could have been – and could be – partially mitigated by punctual additional interventions and/or simple follow-ups by the extension workers. This potential is more appreciable in the two clusters with better initial conditions (Kanduku II and Govati). The EEP definitely contributes to generating strong group cohesion and collaboration and allows people to take a “graduation path” toward independence. The proof is that some members prefer being part of a VSL than being supported by the SCT program.


Burchi, F., & Roscioli, F. (2022). Can integrated social protection programmes affect social cohesion? Mixed-methods evidence from Malawi. The European Journal of Development Research, 1-24. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-022-00535-z


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