Supporting Social Work in Malawi (SSWIM)


Social Workers and social work services in Malawi have a critical role to play in working with individuals, communities and others to address the challenges and issues impacting on the lives of citizens in Malawi . Yet such provision remains scarce.
Malawi has a total population of about 20 million people, with the greater part of the population living in rural communities mostly as subsistence farmers. Malawi is one of the most culturally diverse communities in Africa, with several ethnic and racial groups living peacefully together 
Despite the abundance of natural and human resources Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in Africa, with about 51% of its population living below the poverty line. 60% of children in Malawi are multi -dimensionally poor. 11% of children under 18 years of age are orphans. 
The drivers of inequalities include climate shocks, emergencies, health outbreaks (i.e. COVID-19), inadequate investment in human capital, capabilities and economic and social rights, weak governance and institutions, harmful practices, and negative social norms.  The ultra-poor and food-insecure households are at risk of being left furthest behind. 
The United Nations (2024) have identified a number of groups facing intersecting deprivations and forms of discrimination and exclusion – women, children, adolescent girls, youth, persons with disabilities, persons with albinism, persons living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQIA peoples, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, older people, especially women, and persons deprived of their liberty, including prisoners
Our Approach 
•    Facilitated by CFIF under its SSWIM Project, social work practitioners and academics with expertise in practice, teaching and research at national and international level,  offer their skills and expertise to share with colleagues in Malawi. 
•    We are committed to ensuring that all our involvement is led by the self-identified needs of the Malawian community of social workers
•    We seek to be an ally in the development of social work and social work services, recognising the importance of supporting local practice, being mindful of previous colonial practices, with a strong emphasis on encouraging the development of indigenous resources giving credit to the power of local cultures and local practitioners   •    The flow of knowledge and the impact of engagement is based on mutual respect, as a two-way process with shared knowledge and learning, based on a mutual concern for social work services based on human rights, social justice and the social work value base. 
•    SSWIM’s overriding aim is to provide support in a way which is self-sustainable for the long term, creating, strengthening, and empowering a skilled and effective social work profession across Malawi.

So what has been achieved? 

 In 2023 SSWIM reached both social workers and students in Malawi, potentially improving services to 100’s of individuals within many communities across Malawi.


SSWIM has supported 
•    Social work education at degree and diploma level  with curriculum input , teaching and support
•    The development of Practice Educator Training and Training for Trainers 
•    The establishment of the National Association of Social Workers in Malawi to focus on registration, continuing professional development; including Leadership Training
•    Joint writing and research projects and the production of indigenous social work resources 
•    The collection  and transporting to Malawi of almost 1000 social work books from UK donors 
•    The provision of support and advice to colleagues in Malawi via visits and frequent online/WhatsApp exchanges
•    Work with government and major organisations in Malawi to further the professionalization of social work and support positive change in law and regulation

And further afield

•    Promoted internationally the partnership between colleagues in Malawi and SSWIM to the benefit of social work worldwide, particularly through contributions to the International Federation of Social Work (Africa) via its conferences and webinars  
•    Responded  to requests from The Democratic Republic of Congo for SSWIM and colleagues in Malawi to share their joint initiatives
Going forward we will increasingly :
•    Access funding and provide support to community based projects which both meet the needs of the most vulnerable whilst providing opportunities to further the knowledge, skills, training opportunities for student and qualified social workers and social care practitioners. (Link to Supporting Projects page coming soon)

Messages of support
"I am pleased to learn about SSWIM (Supporting Social Work in Malawi) and strongly support the work they are doing to enable Malawian social work professionals to be well trained and able to meet some of the challenges posed by the most vulnerable members of their society."   Sincerely, Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell


This programme has been so inspirational and wonderful. I have gained so much knowledge over a week and am thankful to have had the chance to be here’.  

A participant on the Practice Educator course delivered in Malawi by UK members of SSWIM in 2016  

An excellent programme; very motivating, very useful’.  

Another attendee at a Practice Educators course delivered to social workers in Malawi  by SSWIM members.


My name is Mary-Karen, a beneficiary of Children and Families International Foundation, when I was in desperate need during my school at the Catholic University of Malawi, your organisation rescued me. I graduated 9 years ago and my first job was with a child and Youth Media organisation called Timveni where I worked to enhance children’s lives through education, advocacy in policy changes etc. After 5 years I joined the government in Phalombe district where I worked as a community development officer. All of this is just to appreciate what you did for me’.

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