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Category Justice and Peace Desk

Newly constructed slaughterhouse
Concerns over Newly Constructed Chitipa Slaughterhouse

By Wezzie Mwangonde*

Chitipa District Council is one of the councils that have received funding for development projects under the Governance to Enable Service Delivery (GESD) in the 2022/2023 financial year, one of which is the newly constructed slaughterhouse. This has raises concerns among Butchery Association members in the district due to their low participation and lack of some structures at the site.

Newly constructed slaughterhouse
Newly constructed slaughterhouse

In an interview, recently, Chitipa Butchery Association Chairperson, Siasa Nyondo said the Association has had low participation during the construction of the slaughterhouse, citing that none of their members was part of the project management committee.

Nyondo explained that some structures are missing at the site such as toilets, manure bin and inside tap water. This he said has left them with unanswered questions as they are still waiting for the council to invite them for the meeting to discuss the completion of the construction.

“The council only involved us during the project’s inception meeting where they committed to include one of us in the project management committee which did not happen until we saw the newly constructed structure on our own and the council has never invited us again. We are still waiting for them to invite us,” said Nyondo.

Old slaughterhouse
Old slaughterhouse

According to former Chitipa Civil Society Organisations Network Chairperson, Sydney Simwaka the contractor finished the construction of the slaughterhouse within the construction period from 7th December, 2022 to 7th March 2023, but said he is unable to respond to why the structure is not being utilized by the people till now.

He has also urged the people in the district to have interest in the projects that are constructed using public funds and participate fully in order to promote transparency and accountability in development activities in the country.

“The construction finished within the period but the council would be in a better position to respond as to why the slaughterhouse is not being utilized because we do not know the reasons. May be we need to wait for the handover ceremony,” explained Simwaka.

In his remarks, the owner of Mazangala Building Construction, Ranson Simbeye has confirmed that the slaughterhouse’ keys were handed over to the Chitipa District Council in September this year.

Simbeye said, the construction of toilets, houses and maintenance of feeder road to the slaughter house which has a lot of potholes were not part of the contractor’s job.

“We handed over the keys and everything is in the hands of the government. According to the bill of quantity (BOQ) construction of toilets and houses at the site were not part of the contract as well as maintenance of the feeder road,” said Simbeye.

Commenting on the matter, Chitipa District Council Director of Planning and Development Jossen Tembo said the relevant committees such as the Village Development and main market committee were engaged. He has attributed delays in opening the slaughterhouse to lack of electricity, vandalism of electrical cables and maintenance of the feeder road to the site.

He added that electricity and water were part of the project budget. Currently, the council is sourcing funds for the maintenance of the feeder road so that people can start using the structure.

“There are some vendors who are concurring with the sentiments of other market users that the slaughterhouse is located very far from the market, therefore, we want to engage them to start using the structure because it is theirs.”

National Local Governance Finance Committee Board Chairperson, Richard Chapweteka declined to comment saying he has not yet visited the site.

Chitipa District slaughterhouse is constructed in Chitipa Central Constituency at Yamba Ward by Mazangala Building Construction Company to the tune of K39,550,072.00 under GESD.

*Wezzie Mwangonde is Chief News Editor for Tuntufye FM of the Diocese of Karonga. She writes this story as part of the Voices of Accountability Programme.

CCJP New Project to Strengthen Women’s Voice in Reducing Poverty and Inequalities

By Tawonga Chisale

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) under the Diocese of Karonga has launched a new project which is aimed at empowering women to reduce poverty and   inequalities in extractive governance in the district.

A cross-section of participants during the launch
A cross-section of participants during the launch

The new project is called Women’s Voice Against Poverty and Inequalities is being funded by Southern Africa Trust (SAT) and will be implemented at Mpata mining sites under Group Village Headman Mwenenguwe and Paulos.

Speaking in an interview, the organization’s Project Officer Vincent Bwinga said they have thought it wise to implement this project in the district because it has lot of mining sites which usually leave women as victims of circumstances as their voices are not heard.

“We have a lot of minerals being extracted such as coal mine, uranium and copper. Most of the times women are being left behind and voicing out their concerns is a challenge. We, therefore, would like to reduce the gap between these two genders,” Bwinga said.

“The new project will allow women to be heard by duty bearers and investors so that issues surrounding mining concerning women and communities should be resolved mostly through the voice of women,” Bwinga further said.

In a separate interview, one of the community members Christina Ngonga welcomed the development saying it will allow their voice to be heard by authorities in mining sector as and in turn spark development in their communities.

“We are very delighted with the initiative that CCJP has brought to our area because we have suffered a lot especially those working in mining sites as far as health status and environmental rights are concerned.

 “We expect that mining investors will be doing the following; offering employment opportunities to community members, construct good roads and health facilities which are a great challenge in this area,” Ngonga said.

Ngonga further expressed the women’s commitment and readiness to work with CCJP under the new project to reduce the problems they are facing and spur development in their area.

Commenting on the matter, Project Manager for Kasikizi Coal Mine, Vijey Sekhar said they are ready to work with CCJP and communities to spearhead development in the area and reduce poverty. He further said that, as mine owners, they will also make sure that the well-being of mine workers and community members is fully protected.

A cross-section of participants captured during the training
Justice and Peace Desk Trains Safeguarding Focal Persons

By Janet Mhango

From the 14th to the 15th of September, CCJP has trained the Safeguarding Focal Persons on safeguarding, case management, and referral. The training brought about 54 Safeguarding Focal Persons from 25 Catholic Primary Schools and 4 Catholic Secondary Schools in Chitipa District. 

A cross-section of participants captured during the training
A cross-section of participants captured during the training

Through the training, CCJP has equipped these Safeguarding Focal persons with more skills to handle both reported and non-reported cases of abuse, creating a safe environment for students and contributing towards protecting the rights of children in respective schools. 

This training was conducted because of the strong view that most issues regarding abuses in schools are swept under the carpet. Cases of abuse are barely reported. In addition, although the Diocese of Karonga established Safeguarding Focal Persons in all its institutions, they had implementation and enforcement gaps that needed them to be filled, hence the trained.

The Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga, with Funding from Misereor, is implementing a project in Chitipa District called “Gender Sensibilization and Safeguarding in the Diocese of Karonga.” 

One of the objectives of the project is that Catholic Primary Schools have established systems for the protection of students. To achieve this objective, the project works with Safeguarding Focal Persons which are structures established by the Diocese of Karonga to handle safeguarding concerns and reported cases of abuse.

Ambassador Impressed with the Impact of Women Empowerment Program

By Memory Moyo

Women Empowerment Programme beneficiaries from T/A Wasambo in Karonga District have requested the Government of Norway through Ambassador Stainer Hagil to continue funding the program since it has increased participation of women in decision making.

Ambassador of Norway speaking during the function
Ambassador of Norway speaking during the function

This has been said today during a field visit by the Ambassador of Norway at Hangalawe Primary School in the area of T/A Wasambo where he was appreciating what has been done by The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Diocese of Karonga in collaboration with United Nations Women and Karonga District Council.

Speaking during the function, one the beneficiaries, Ward Councillor for Nyungwe Ward Ethel Mwanza, said she managed to attain this position through the teachings from this programme.

“Through the Women Empowerment Program, I am able to stand before men to contribute development ideas for my ward. It is my wish that this program should continue as it may increase participation of women in the 2025 Tripartite Elections Mwanza,” Mwanza said.

Responding to Mwanza’s plea, the Norwegian Ambassador Stainer Hagil said they are engaging UN women on the way forward of this project.

“I am so impressed with the impact the programme has had on the women of Karonga. This is why we have to discuss with these organization on what can be done to continue helping women from the current 29 % participation of women in politics to around 65%,” Hagen explained.

CCJP implemented the programme with financial support from Royal Norwegian Embassy through UN Women. CCJP implemented the programme in partnership with Karonga District Council with the aim of increasing meaningful participation of women in leadership positions, gender responsive planning and budgeting at national and local levels. The programme which started in 2017 and is ending this year covered all the traditional authorities of Karonga.  

PET conducted at Hara Maternity wing

By Lestina Sanga

‘Public resources need to be well accounted for’, Mr Msukwa, the Karonga District Council Finance Committee Chairperson. This was stated in his speech during Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) dissemination for the Construction of Hara maternity wing at Chankholombe School.

the PET dissemination was organised by the Justice and Peace Desk of Karonga Diocese under the Project OSISA Health Governance. under this project, the Desk has managed to empower community members to following up on expenditures as well as projects done using resources from public funding baskets. the desk has volunteers known as the Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) Focal Team, who spearhead the tracking system and empower others. the purpose of the PET process is to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the management of funds in the Health Sector.

Some of the participants during PETS findings dissemination session

Hara Maternity Wing was constructed using Community Managed Social Economic Fund. By design is the project under the fund is supposed to be managed by the community members, who receive training and technical guidance from the district councils relevant officers. However, Hara Maternity wing was constructed with no monitoring and supervision from the Council, the committees chosen did not have enough training, which affected the management of the contract with the Contractor and procurement of building materials problematic.

From the PET conducted, an amount of about MK 65,000 was misappropriated, including other already procured materials. It was also revealed by the Project Implementation team that MK 500,000 was taken forcefully by the contractor.

On way forward it was recommended that there should be New Project Management team to continue the project when funds are mobilized, the one present was doubled as the Health Center Management Committee and Project Implementation Team. so the project lacked local oversight and monitoring.

Girls enjoying their porridge
Isn’t this how Gender Inequality Begins?

By Violet Machika

I watched the children stand in line as they received porridge as it is part of the school feeding programs where the community has to organize itself, or if lucky, they’re receiving porridge flour to feed the little ones with the assumption that children either don’t have food in their homes or part of lifting the parent’s responsibility. We will talk about that in the future.

Today, I want to share with you about something I found interesting during my visit to Kasitu Primary School, in Kapoka, being one of the areas the Justice and Peace Desk is implementing Safeguarding the Rights of Women and Children with support from Misereor Germany.

Boys enjoying their porridge
Boys enjoying their porridge

I observed that children could go and sit down according to their sexes once they received their porridge. Boys made their own circle and so did the girls. It is this that has inspired me to write this piece. I asked myself, ‘who told them to sit according to their sexes?’ If it is the teachers or the parents what was the reasoning behind this arrangement? Are boys and girls different? Or, perhaps, just like I was told by my grandmother when I was young, “Boys bite! Always stay away from them”?

What baffles me is that we speak of gender equality and gender mainstreaming, We preach of the holistic approach in promoting the rights of the child, now, how do we implement the same when society, teachers, parents are already planting in the minds of girls and boys that they are not equal? What is it that the said people are telling our young ones when we’re not listening?

With that, I decided to enjoy the porridge and take a few selfies. Maybe we should start diverting towards mindset empowerment, mindset change or what suits. Because this is still nurturing problems we will seek to address 20 years from now.

Group of workshop participants and facilitators
Champions of Change Facilitators and Mentors Challenged to Promote Gender Justice

By Lestina Sanga

Gender Expert, Dr. Mary Shaba, has urged facilitators and mentors of Champions of Change (COC) Project to champion gender justice in order to reduce gender based violence (GBV) in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula.

Dr Mary Shaba facilitating on gender issues

Dr. Mary Shaba was speaking during a training session of facilitators and mentors where she emphasized that rigid gender roles and stereotypes, much as they seem beneficial to men and boys, create violent men and boys who cannot create a healthy relationship. This, she said, leads to high prevalence rates of violence in communities.

The training, which took place from 17 to 21 February, 2020 at Mwenitete TDC Hall, was organized by the Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga under the Tithese Nkhanza, Champions of Change Project (COC). The training aimed at equipping facilitators and mentors with relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes on the subject matter as well as methods of instruction.

The project aims at transforming social norms and attitudes in the area of T/A Kilupula so as to reduce the prevalence of gender based violence. Under the project, facilitators will be holding weekly training sessions on gender equality, reducing GBV and social inclusion with adolescent boys and girls who are in school and out of school clubs.

On their part, the participants hailed the training session and expressed hope that the weekly training sessions they will be conducting will help change attitudes of boys and girls towards gender equality and reduce gender based violence in the long run.

The District Coordinator for Tithese Nkhanza, Atusaye Nyondo, urged the facilitators and mentors to stay committed in changing attitudes of adolescent boys and girls in their communities so as to reduce the prevalence of gender inequality and gender based violence (GBV).

In its initial stages, the project is targeting eight schools in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula. The participating schools are Mbamba, Kakoma, Kasantha, Mwaulambo, Chisi, Ndemange, and Kakolya primary schools and Wilole Secondary School.

Vincent Bwinga of Justice and Peace Desk giving welcoming remarks
Ulambiya-Kaseye ADC Meeting Expectations of ECM and DCA

By Lestina Sanga

The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and Danish Church Aid (DCA) are impressed with the Community Action Groups (CAGs), Community Journalists (CJs) and Area Development Committee (ADC) of Ulambiya-Kaseye ADC.

This transpired during the recent monitoring visit, conducted by DCA and ECM, to some of the project sites for the DCA funded Citizen Action in Local Governance Accountability (CALGA) project. The Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga is implementing the project in Karonga and Chitipa districts.

Ulambiya-Kaseye ADC has been hailed as a perfect example for all the ADCs is all the districts where CALGA project is being implemented. George Usiwa, Governance Programme Manager for Justice and Peace National Office, stated that members of this ADC should be taken to national level to showcase their success.

The Ulambia-Kaseye team outlined all efforts they have collectively done in order to enhance transparency and accountability in the allocation and utilization of local development financial resources.

Speaking during the event, Chairperson for CAGs thanked the Justice and Peace Desk for imparting knowledge and empowering communities to be holding their leaders accountable.

The unwillingness of council officials to address community demands is prevalent as such, the CJs from this ADC write stories and coordinate with the professional journalists on crucial and problematic issues of social accountability.

This attracts attention of stakeholders on the problem at national level. The CAGs in collaboration with the ADC have engagement meetings with councilors on the allocation and utilization of District Development Fund (DDF) and MPs on Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

In the spirit of ‘nothing for us without us’ some development projects have been put to a halt by communities demanding inclusion or participation in the allocation and utilization of resources.

Several times the ADC, in collaboration with the CAGs and CJs, drafted petitions to the council several times and when there is no response, petitions are channeled to the ministry. Funds being Tracked at Ulambia-Kaseye, are DDF, Local Development Fund (LDF), Community Managed Social Economic Development Fund (COMSEF), CDF and Malata Cement Subsidy Programe. This is not the case in most areas where the main focus is on DDF and CDF.

In general, the DCA and ECM has been impressed with the coordination among CAGs, ADCs and CJs in Chitipa and Karonga where the project is being implemented by the Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga. The coordination lead to good performance and it is good for sustainability of the project.

File Photo: Louis Nkhata Speaking during a health governance project meeting
Justice and Peace Desk Lobbies for the Relocation of Office of DHSS to District Council Offices

By Obert Mkandawire  

On 29th October, 2019, the Justice and Peace Desk, through the OSISA funded health governance project, held a meeting at Club Marina in Karonga to influence the effective implementation of the decentralization process, policies and strategies within the health sector. 

The meeting was attended by Chitipa District Council led by the District Commissioner and Chitipa District Health Management Team, the Chairperson of Chitipa CSO Network and members from the Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga.

Firstly, the meeting advocated for the relocation of the Director of Health and Social Services (DHSS) from the district hospital to the Council offices.  The Justice and Peace Desk contends that the new arrangement will enable the DHSS to oversee all health facilities without bias.  The current set up is such that the DHSS is preoccupied with matters relating to the district hospital and health centres are affected in terms of distribution of resources. 

Participants agreed in the interim functions of the office of the DHSS should focus on the district level while still operating from Chitipa District Health Office because the current DHSS is working in acting capacity.

The meeting also discussed further devolution of Chitipa Local Health Sector Budget.  Currently, the budget is centralized at the District Health Office.  It was agreed during the meeting that some Health Centres such as Misuku, Wenya and Nthalire will have their own allocations for example fuel and cleaning materials from Other Recurrent Transactions beginning next ORT disbursement.

Finally, participants agreed on the separation of powers between the District Health Management Team and the Hospital Management Team (HMT).  The District Health Management Team will concentrate on affairs of all health facilities while the HMT will report to the former and will be making some financial decisions pertaining to the district hospital. The Hospital Management Team would be instituted and start its operations by December 31, 2019. 

However, Chitipa DHO team requested the Justice and Peace Desk to facilitate some bench marking especially where such an arrangement is in place such as Ntcheu and Mchinji.  The Justice and Peace Department says the new arrangement will ensure further decentralization of health decision making processes.

Amanga Bangula making a presentation on value for money
Justice and Peace Desk Granted Two New VAWG Projects

By Vincent Bwinga (Justice and Peace)

The Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga has, on 16th September, 2019, received a grant to implement two Tithetse Nkhanza Violence Against Women and Girls projects known as Actions to Transform Social Norms and Support for VAWG Survivors in Karonga District.

Speaking during post award meeting in Lilongwe, Tithetse Nkhanza Team Leader Grace Mawera has confirmed that the Justice and Peace Desk along four other partners have been granted the 2 projects to implement as pilot projects for three years and six months with an opportunity for a further three-year extension.

Commenting on the implementation of the projects, Mawera says the first three-year period is for learning and adaptation and therefore requested all partners to document and demonstrate evidence in the implementation; propose best practices to the program and ensure transparency and accountability in managing finances for the project.

On issues of safeguarding the rights of beneficiaries, the Team Leader urged all organization staff members to avoid sexual advances towards beneficiaries.

“The projects will be in contact with school girls, boys and women. Therefore, we need to do no harm to any beneficiary. We need to be survivor centered in carrying out our activities,” she said.

Actions to Transform Social Norms Project focuses on reduction of prevalence of violence against women and girls and progress towards the full realization of women and children’s human rights. The project is being implemented using Champion of Change Model in seven identified primary schools and one secondary school in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula.

On this model, the project engages adolescent girls and boys in schools and their communities to promote positive changes in gender attitudes and behaviours.  It creates healthy relationships among adolescents through single-sex safe spaces for boys and for girls separately. There are also single-sex safe spaces for parents. Further, the model promotes engagement and dialogue between various stakeholders.

Support for VAWG Survivors Project aims at improving support for VAWG survivors to access justice and related support services. The project is being implemented in following T/As; Kyungu, Wasambo, Kilupula and Mwakaboko using Survivor Support Fund Strategy.

Karonga Women Forum is a lead structure at district level directly providing financial support to help survivors access services required to address the issues at hand. Karonga Women’s Forum will popularize SSF and network with trained accompaniers at T/A level.

Tithetse Nkhanza is a six-year program funded by Department for International Development (DfID) through the consortium of Coffey International, which is the lead organization, Plan Malawi and SS Direct.