Malawi Democracy consolidation program (iv)
What is the project about
With the Democracy Consolidation Programme, we are supporting the Government of Malawi ensure that the citizens play their rightful role in the promotion of good governance and respect for human rights. This entails building an open society governed by democratic principles and institutions which encourage effective participation of individuals, groups and communities in the political, economic and social human development of the country.
Our support for these efforts dates back to 2008 when we implemented the third phase of the Democracy Consolidation Programme (DCP III) under which we mobilised resources, managed a basket funds and provided technical backstopping, particularly in auditing and financial management for the programme. A Programme Steering Committee created under the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights & Democracy (IMCHRD) was responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and evaluation of the Programme. The actual Programme activities were implemented by public institutions and Civil Society Organizations selected through an open and competitive process.
Phase VI of the Programme, which hinges on the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, specifically focuses on the promotion of good governance and attainment of the right to development by vulnerable groups. The Programme also empowers the target groups to demand fair trade, labour and consumer rights.
Methodology and structures
DCP supports Media and Community based projects implemented by various Civil Society Organisations and Public Institutions. The Community based projects follow an implementation strategy that revolves around providing information, redressing systems that foster human rights violations and creating a society that is vigilant in identifying violation of good governance principles.
As a way of ensuring sustainability, the projects train Community Based Educators (CBE’s) who lead in the implementation of the project in their localities. The CBE then creates Village Rights Committees (VRCs) also known as Community Rights Committees (CRCs) with whom they work hand in hand.
The Committees undergo proper training to ensure effectiveness and accuracy of information disseminated, and their priorities mainly concern the challenges that affect the right to development. Once the challenges have been identified, the Committees spearhead the demand for good governance and human rights through dialogue with appropriate duty bearers and follow up on the action to ensure effective solutions.
The communities supported by DCP can also be mobilized around a Radio Listening Club (RLC), which leads the implementation process. The sites for establishment of the RLCs are identified by Development Communications Trust (DCT, an NGO specialized in development communications) facilitators in liaison with District Assembly officers and the traditional leaders.
The RLC members are trained on program production processes, human rights, negotiation skills, good governance, leadership skills and local government structures. After the training, they are given audio recorders for recording their work and wind up/solar operated radios for listening to the programs. They are also sometimes given bicycles to ease mobility as they link up with service providers in addition to performing other RLC related activities.
What have we accomplished so far
As a result of the interventions, rural communities have been transformed from being reactive to being proactive in dealing with their challenges. Specifically, the project has assisted local communities to:
- Demand improvements in infrastructural services i.e. roads, bridges, school blocks, teacher houses, boreholes, desks, sanitation facilities and clinics;
- Demand improved public service delivery, in health, education, safe water etc especially for women and children;
- Promote increased school enrolment by creating a conducive learning environment especially for the girl child;
- Prevent as well as ending early marriages for the girl child;
- Promote adult literacy;
- Promote sustainable use of the environment;
- Promote fairness and justice in public service delivery including the registration of beneficiaries under various safety nets programs such as the Income Generating Public Works Program (IGPWP) and the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP);
- Promote transparency and accountability in public service delivery and fighting corrupt practices among duty bearers in the administration of community development projects and initiatives; and
- Raise awareness and encouraging community participation in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
The project has also provided free paralegal services in 16 districts and positioned staff to commence provision of the same in three additional districts of Karonga, Mzimba and Nkhatabay districts. Again, 851 Community Rights Committees (CRCs) and 45 Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs) have been established to promote adherence to the minimum wage by employers, and help resolve labour disputes.