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Social Welfare

By solomonicdynasty Mar 02, 2015 2785 Words





STUDENT NUMBER : 151210094




FOR FEEDBACK : or Call :0882 459 179 The term Social Welfare has different meanings; as it is both an institution and an academic discipline. While giving examples, define the term in both ways. Every country has an obligation to support its citizens with a number of programs or services that are designed to protect the citizens from the economic risks and insecurities of life. The most common types of programs provide benefits to the elderly or retired, the sick or orphans and vulnerable children, dependent survivors, mothers, the unemployed, the work-injured, and families. While a number of institutions are offering support to the needy, various academic institutions are also busy conducting researches and studies on how to improve the welfare of people. This is a clear manifestation that social welfare services and programs are paramount to individual or communities survival and without it the situation could be chaotic. Malawi as a country has not been left out of this circle of offering social responsibility to its citizenry when needed. This essay will therefore explain the meaning of social welfare in two dimensions, firstly as an institution and secondly as an academic discipline with examples from within and outside Malawi. To begin with, “Social welfare generally denotes the full range of organized activities of voluntary and governmental agencies that seek to prevent, alleviate, or contribute to the solution of recognized social problems, or to improve the well-being of individuals, groups, or communities.”(National Association of Social Workers, Encyclopedia of Social Work Vol.II. 1971) The goal of social welfare is to fulfil the social, financial, health, and recreational requirements of all individuals in a society. Social welfare seeks to enhance the social functioning of all age groups, both rich and poor. When other institutions in our society, such as the market economy and the family, fail at times to meet the basic needs of individuals or groups of people, then social services are needed and demanded. Indeed Social Welfare can be dissected as an institution and an academic discipline in a way that as an institution it deals with a nation’s system of programs, benefits, and services that help people meet those social, economic, educational, and health needs are fundamental to the maintenance of society. And as an academic discipline, Social welfare is defined as the study of agencies, programmes, personnel and policies which focus on the delivery of social services to individuals, groups, and communities.

Recently Malawi was hit the hardest by the worst flooding ever experienced since time in memorial and most of the districts that lie along wetlands were the worst of them all. This catastrophic event prompted the head of state Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika to declare Malawi as a state of disaster (TVM News at 8 p.m. on 13th January 2014) and in his speech the president said “My fellow Malawians, as you may be aware, some parts of the country, especially in the Southern Region, have experienced a lot of heavy rainfall since last week. This rainfall has resulted in heavy flooding in some districts. The worst affected districts are Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Zomba where a lot of people’s houses and household property have been damaged rendering the affected households displaced. Some people have also lost their lives as a result of the floods. I mourn with those that have lost relatives as a result of these heavy rains. And I pray for the souls of our departed brothers and sisters to rest in peace.’’

Following this declaration, a lot of individuals, government and non governmental organizations have been busy running up and down doing assessment of damages and distributing relief items both food and non food items to the internally displaced people throughout the country. Most of these items were meant to support the victims in the areas of Shelter, clothing, health, food, psychosocial support especially to those that lost loved ones. All these actions were being carried out by the government and non government organizations to fulfill the cardinal goal of social welfare of meeting the social, financial, health, and recreational requirements of all individuals in a society.

Furthermore the government and several agencies are not just looking at the immediate needs of these flood affected households , they are looking beyond the horizon especially on recovery and reconstruction plans in a way that other companies are giving out seed to those whose farms have been washed away completely or have their fields totally submerged in water. The seed will be planted using irrigation, residual moisture or will be used for winter cultivation so that they still have enough to eat with their families. A vivid example is Monsanto Malawi limited which set aside K80 million for the flood affected families (daily times, 20th February 2015.p4) according to the country manager for the company, Dalitso Gadama said they took this initiative as part of their corporate responsibility to assist in enhancing food security in the country.

Complementing the efforts that the government is doing to assist the floods affected households which are being hosted in various camps in many districts making sure that they are not susceptible to other waterborne diseases, UNICEF is working closely with other implementing partners to contain the cholera situation. While several medical supplies were prepositioned to health facilities with support from UNICEF, protective equipment have been sent to the affected district after receiving reports that there were limited or no stocks. In addition, UNICEF supplied 30 cholera beds, 15 isolation tents, 1450 bottles of choline to the affected district (UNICEF Malawi Floods Situation Report #10, 18 February 2015)

Social welfare as an institution also deals with a range of services that are geared towards prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation, a good example here in Malawi is the ministry of gender, children, disability and social welfare which was put in place to look at specific issues to do with people’s welfare and has established satellite offices at every district. Recently the Minister of gender, children, disability and social welfare Mrs. Patricia Kaliati presented a marriage bill in parliament which has just been passed raising the legal age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18. The bill was passed mostly because the government among other things wanted to protect the girl child from being married at a younger age (15) though there was supposed to be consent of the guardian or parent. Nearly half of all girls in Malawi are married by the age of 19. These numbers rise in the rural areas and within certain tribes. In Malawi, the law allows girls between the ages of 15-19 to be married with their parent’s consent due to traditional cultural practices where girls are prepared for marriage when they are as young as 10 years old(, factsheet on child marriage)

In other wealthy nations social welfare services are being done as part of religious creed where the poor are fed and taken care of by the church and a good example is India where Sikh religion’s social welfare services started in 1483 when The First Guru of Sikh (Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji) started to offer free food to poor. He named it "sacha souda" means the true business. Since then "Langar" means food for no cost, is offered to everyone who visit Gurudwaras (Sikh Worship Place) all over the world. The practice continued from last six centuries to stop racial discrimination and differences between rich and poor. People from all caste and creeds, and all communities, countries and classes are welcomed and served at Gurudwaras as one race and equality. Another word coined by Sikhs for social service is KAR SEWA means free service. This word was coined by Third Guru of Sikhs (Shri Guru Amar Das Ji). The term Kar Sewa is accepted by all religions in India and they started becoming part of it through their own religion. Kar Sewa may include social welfare in all forms like free medical services, public awareness programs, child welfare, women welfare etc.(

On the other hand social welfare may be looked at as an academic discipline because one of its functions it to educate and train social workers and all this happens because its primary objective is to impart relevant knowledge and skills. And according to Charles Zastrow (Introduction to social work and social welfare 10th Edition. p.4), he states that “several academic disciplines seek to develop a knowledge base about social problems, their causes, and their alleviation and among these academic disciplines is social welfare.

Social welfare on its own encompasses a lot of disciplines and some of these disciplines are sociology, psychology, psychiatry, political science, economics and cultural anthropology. All these disciplines deal with people especially how they think, live and survive and in this vein a lot of schools both national and international are doing researches on how to improve each discipline in order to come up with best approaches of confronting issues to do with human life.

One of the best examples is the college of medicine in Blantyre administers a psychiatric course In 2007, the Scottish Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP) assisted Malawi’s only medical school, the College of Medicine, University of Malawi, in providing psychiatric teaching and examination to their 4th year medical students (Beaglehole A L et al, 2008). The Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP) aims to provide sustainable support for psychiatric teaching and training for health care professionals in Malawi. The project has enjoyed close links with individuals and institutions in Malawi since 2006 and became a registered Scottish Charity in 2008(

Currently the project delivers the teaching of the psychiatry module to the medical students, supports post graduate psychiatry trainees (Masters in Medicine) and delivers training to psychiatry nurses and clinical officers based in Zomba Mental Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre. This study deals with the treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior. Various researches are conducted through the department at the college just to find out the root course of many mental illnesses and how they can treat the problems. This is part of the of the colleges social responsibility as academicians to make sure that the citizens of this country are not deprived of social services when ever they need them.

Another good example of social welfare as an academic discipline is the course which is being offered at Malawi Prisons Training school at Mapanga in Blantyre district where among other subjects it offers criminology as it is the study of crime, criminals, and the punishment of criminals ( The college offers this course deliberately to build the capacity of prison wardens so that they have an in-depth knowledge of the ones that have disturbed social order.

Particularly, the study of criminology targets why individuals commit crimes and why they behave in certain situations.  By understanding why a person commits a crime, one can develop ways to control crime or rehabilitate the criminal. There are many theories in criminology. Some attribute crime to the individual; they believe that an individual weighs the pros and cons and makes a conscious choice whether or not to commit a crime. Others believe it is the community’s responsibility to ensure that their citizens do not commit crime by offering them a safe and secure place in which to live. Some argue that some individuals have specific traits that will determine how they will react when put in certain negative conditions. For instance the juvenile delinquency is on the increase in Malawi due to a number of factors and one of it being the extreme poverty levels affecting many especially in the rural areas.

According to a mid term review on the Statistics for the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy by Mr. Lars Lundgren, Mr. John Mataya and Ms Barbara Wirth-Bauer, Malawi has a population of about 15 million inhabitants, 85 percent of whom live in rural areas, with 15 percent living in urban areas. Partly reflecting this spatial distribution of population, agriculture is a significant source of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2012, for example, agriculture was the source of 28.7 percent of GDP. In the same year, wholesale and retail trade contributed 15.7 percent to GDP and manufacturing was the source of only 9.3 percent of the GDP. Half the population lives below the national poverty line and the degree of income inequality is high (Mid-term review Malawi: statistics for the Malawi growth and development strategy, 3rd phase p.8)

The study clearly indicated that over 85% of population in Malawi lives in abject poverty and there are so many consequences resulting from this like increased street kids who beg around towns, cities and this may result into increased criminal activity in various localities especially in cities and towns where the circulation of money is quite good comparing to the rural areas. This is a social problem and requires a lot of agencies or firms to conduct thorough research on how the problems may be prevented or rooted out.

Social welfare as an academic institution strives to study critically on programmes, personnel and policies which focus on the delivery of social services to individuals, groups, and communities. Various universities in Malawi have several faculties that deal with studies on particular subject and a good example is chancellor college through the faculty of social sciences where there is an organ called Center for Social Research.

Centre for Social Research (CSR) is an organ of the University of Malawi that conducts and promotes excellence in academic and applied social science research in partnership with the public and private sectors so as to inform policy and offer training for capacity building". (  

In conclusion it can be seen from the evidence presented that social welfare is indeed a complex issue and the various disciplines within it can not be separated from one another because they work as a package. So the essay has defined social welfare as an institution and as an academic discipline with spot on examples from within and outside the country. Social welfare has been defined as an institution because of the wide range of services or programs it offers giving examples of the recent floods that have devastated most of the districts in Malawi. The essay has cited initiatives taken by the country through the president by declaring a state of disaster and responses from private non governmental organizations like UNICEF and MONSANTO who have rendered assistance during the floods. It has also tackled on some of the programs that the ministry of gender, children, elderly and social welfare has taken by having the marriage bill changed in parliament.

The essay has also defined social welfare as an academic discipline citing numerous studies of programmes, personnel and policies which focus on the delivery of social services to individuals, groups, and communities. Some of the examples mentioned are like researches being conducted under psychiatry department at college of medicine, studies that are done at Chancellor College under the faculty of social science particularly the center for social research which among other things conducts studies on why the prevalent rate of HIV/AIDS is escalating. The essay has also mentioned on Mapanga prison service training school that trains wardens and cited one of the subjects being offered which is criminology where crime, criminals, and the punishment of criminals are thoroughly looked at in order to establish the real facts of crime.

Encyclopedia of Social Work Vol.II. 1971, p.1446: National Association of Social Workers Charles Zastrow (2009) Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare: Empowering  Archive: viewed on 21st February 2015 TVM News at 8 p.m. on 13th January 2014

Nations newspaper of 14th January 2015. Page 1
Archive: viewed on 22nd February 2015 The daily times, 20th February 2015.p4
Archive: viewed on 22nd February 2015 UNICEF Malawi Floods Situation Report #10, 18 February 2015
Archive: viewed on 23rd February 2015 Archive: view on 22nd February 2015 Archive: Viewed on 22nd February 2015 Archive: viewed on 23rd February 2015 Mid-term review Malawi: statistics for the Malawi growth and development strategy, 3rd phase p.8 Archive: on 23rd February 2015

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