Roads Fund Administration (RFA) has allocated about K1.2 billion in the current financial year towards maintenance of community roads under the Community Roads Maintainance Programme in 20 of the country’s 28 districts.
RFA board chairperson Mathews Chikankheni in an interview yesterday said they anticipate the allocation to help improve the state of community roads through the programme.
He spoke on the sidelines of a symbolic donation of road maintenance tools to Phalombe District Council that included wheelbarrows, rakes, hoes, shovels, pangas, gumboots and bicycles.
Through the programme, communities in 20 districts, who are mobilised in community road maintenance clubs and were trained by councils, are supported by the RFA with tools. Members also receive an allowance of between K23 000 and K63 000 as an incentive.
Chikankheni said the RFA expects to expand the programme to all 28 districts in the future.
He said: “The RFA has committed over K1.2 billion for this financial year towards the programme and part of the resources have been used to procure various working tools at a total cost of K400 million.
“The total club members under this programme is 5 656 and we have 40 percent women representation.”
Chikankheni said the RFA will this week hand over similar tools to other district councils.
The roads maintained by the clubs are those in communities within councils.
Chikankheni said all the 20 councils where the programme is being implemented signed an Annual Financing Agreement with the RFA which provides a guide on implementation.
Phalombe district commissioner Douglas Moffat in a separate interview described the programme as important in the context of decentralisation.
“Most of the roads don’t just get damaged in a single year but over the period if they are not maintained. So, these tools will go a long in ensuring that our roads can last long,” he said.
Phalombe District Council chairperson Lesten Kondwani said they will ensure that club members use the tools for their intended purposes.
The programme supports 745 community roads maintenance clubs. It aims to improve access to social services, improve livelihood through creation of income earning opportunities and participation and empowerment of rural communities.
During its inception 15 years ago, it was called the Income Generating Public Works Programme and later Rural Infrastructure Development Programme and Agriculture Sector Wide Approach.