Saying farwell to Malawi: Interview with Head of Cooperation and Deputy Head of Mission, Bjarne Garden.

Head of Cooperation and Deputy Head of Mission, Bjarne Garden at the embassy office (photo: RNE)
Bjarne Garden at the embassy office. (photo: RNE)

After completing 4 years of service at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Malawi, Head of Cooperation and Deputy Head of Mission, Bjarne Garden will be leaving the Embassy in July to his next chapter. We gave him a quick interview to give us an insight over his time here.

What has been your greatest experience and most challenging experience during your time here at the embassy in Lilongwe?

 The most challenging part has been to obtain the “smartest” possible investment of the Norwegian aid budget for Malawi. This has been a running challenge throughout the years, as our goal is to ensure that the resources are fairly allocated to generate the best potential development results.

That being said, the most positive experience is seeing the results of our investments, especially within health which is a heavily aid financed sector. For example, child mortality almost reduced by 50 percent during the period 2010-2016, indicates that aid works, alongside government efforts. We have as well developed programme designs in education that are very promising, and innovative. Furthermore, out biggest achievements is our investment in transformative activities such as contributing to the national identification card, and providing funding for the upcoming national household and population survey. Good data is key to identify where the needs and potentials are the greatest. Lastly, the social and personal relations has been a positive experience – good friends and good colleagues! The Embassy has very good partners in Malawi that help us turn investments into results.

What will you miss the most about working in this Embassy and Malawi in general?

I will miss my friendships here in Malawi - amongst our partners, and not least the Embassy staff who has been tremendously welcoming. They bolster the Embassy to achieve great results and services. 

If someone was to ask you what is the most special thing about Malawi is, then what would you say?

I would say that despite the poverty people experience throughout Malawi, people are not giving up. Rather, they are very warm and welcoming amidst their challenges. They display such a great hospitality which really made a big impression on me.