By Vincent Bwinga
The District Executive Committee (DEC) for Chitipa has approved the Citizen Action for Local Government Accountability (CALGA) project of the Justice and Peace Desk, as a worthwhile project, to be implemented in the district.
The Justice and Peace facilitated the DEC meeting to brief the members on the Desk’s new, Danish Church Aid funded, three-year local governance accountability project and seek their technical appraisal.
The project aims at promoting transparency and accountability in the management of local government resources in selected district councils of Malawi. This project is premised by issues of ineffective systems to safeguard locally generated revenues; mismanagement and abuse of development resources; and politicization of development resources such as Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Local Development Focus (LDF), District Development Fund (DDF) and local revenues.
The Desk Officer for Justice and Peace Desk Mr Louis NKhata assured DEC members that the project seeks to build communities’ capacity, through Community Action Groups (CAGs), to track allocation and utilization of development resources. This dispelled fears that the project is meant to witch hunt members of the local assembly.
The Desk officer stressed that there is limited action by the community members to monitor reports and hold duty bearers accountable in the allocation and utilization of local development resources.
“There is also limited access to information on local development resources and poor coordination and organization of citizens to collectively engage duty bearers due to limited knowledge and capacity at community level,” said Nkhata.
Appraising the project, DEC members advised the Justice and Peace Desk to conduct interviews in identification of Community Action Group (CAG) and Community Journalists (CJs) so that the project identifies right people to achieve the project’s goal.
DEC members also advised the Justice and Peace Desk on the need for gender consideration in the identification of volunteers. Further, they also felt the need for local governance structures such as Area Development Committees and Village Development Committees and also build capacity of councilors on how they can create other avenues of collecting local resources.
Chairperson for Chitipa Civil Societies Organizations (CSOs) Sydney Simwaka, stressed that despite limited capacity of some councillors in understanding budgets, district councils rarely grant access to itemized budgets, as well as information on the allocation and utilization of development.
The Justice and Peace will be implement in six traditional authorities of Kameme, Mwenemisuku and Mwaulambia in Chitipa District and Wasambo, Kyungu and Kilupula in Karonga District.