Pan African Civic Educators Network (Pacenet) has since launched a one-year project in Thyolo and Chiradzulu districts which targets village development committees (VDCs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) to take part in the planning, implementation and monitoring of local projects.
â€œThe Malawi Government made a deliberate move to adopt the Local Government Act and the Decentralisation Policy with the aim of creating space and opportunities for increased citizen participation in decision-making processes affecting their socio-economic and political affairs.
Although the absence of elected councillors is a felt need, Pacenet realises that government still channels resources for development to the local councils; hence, the need to empower local governance structures so that they are able to utilise the resources effectively,â€ said Pacenet board member Stella Sagawa when she unveiled a new project in the week called â€˜Enhancing citizen action for development and democratic governance at local level.â€™
The project, which targets 89 VDCs in Chiradzulu and 72 VDCs in Thyolo and five ward committees in Luchenza, aims at strengthening capacity of the local governance structures to fulfil their roles.
The project is an extension of another one called â€˜Strengthening democratic processes at local levelâ€™ which was carried out in 2011 with funds from National Democratic Institute (NDI).
â€œWe want the local governance structures to demand better and timely social services and accountability from duty holders in their local areas,â€ Sagawa said.
Director of Planning and Development at Chiradzulu District Council Morson Magombo admitted that there was capacity gap for the VDCs; hence, the need for more orientation.
â€œThe first step we took is that we reorganised the VDCs and trained them on their roles. This project will enlighten them more on their roles and give them courage to monitor projects in their local areas,â€ said Magombo.
The country is expected to hold tripartite elections in 2014.