Friday, October 3, 2014

Watch that Kwach

Malawi is a cash-based society. The currency here is the Malawian Kwacha (MK or K). There are coins as well as bills, but the bills are much more common. The coins I have seen are K1, K5 and K10. However, the cheapest item I have ever seen is K10 for a small onion. At some stores, if you require change and it is less than K20, they will just give you a small sweetie (candy) instead.

The current exchange rate is about K400 = $1. Apparently there has been a lot of inflation in the last several years though. As recently as 2012 the exchange rate was K150 = $1.

According to Peace Corps, 60% of the population in Malawi earn less than K25,000 per month. 80% of the population are farmers. Most of them are subsistence farmers, growing enough food to eat, with a little left over to sell for other necessities like soap, cooking oil and clothing.

Here are prices for a few things in Malawi:

Onion, small - K10
Tomato, small - K20
Egg - K60
Roll of toilet paper - K200
Loaf of bread - K250
Irish potatoes, 1 kg - K180
Rice, 1 kg - K300
Snickers bar - K500
Letter to USA - K670
Jar of peanut butter - K750
Notepad - K800
Jungle Oats, 1 kg - K1000
Tuition at the local Secondary School, per term - K4000

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