The US Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer says she is impressed with the national security strategy that is being implemented in trying to combat the problem of albino killings.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines when she officially opened a two day Civil Society Strengthening Conference in Lilongwe on Thursday, Palmer said although the Malawi Police Service is working under limited resources and capacity, the battle will be won eventually.
“The special rappoteur from the UN who was here praised the government’s national strategy for combating the problem of albino killings. Right now it is under resourced but I think the things that the president and the Inspector General are saying are highlighting the idea that people with albinism are one of us and they need to be treated decently. So I think there are things in the strategy that need to be implemented, but am impressed with the strategy,” said Palmer.
The American Ambassador has also pledged her country’s continued support to the Malawi Police Service so that they acquire the right capacity which will help them deal with situations like these.
“We really appreciate the efforts the Malawi Police is making and we do provide some good training for them. We have an international law enforcing academy and the Malawi Police are taking good advantage of that and we are happy to be providing such support as we do to the rest of the world,” she said.
Counterpart International under the Support The Efforts of Partners (STEPS) programme have organised the conference which has pooled together almost all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in Malawi to strengthen them to serve as strong advocates for positive change and deliver improved services in their communities.
Commenting on the conference Palmer said CSOs are most effective when they work with the government and government is more effective when it has the information and policy recommendations and even sometimes the top cover of popular support that the CSOs can provide.
“I often hear CSOs bemoaning their limited influence on government policy. While government should be inclusive in its approach to policy-making, there is also a lot the organisations can do to ensure your voices heard and that you are effectively serving your constituents.
“CSOs play an extremely important role in highlighting where policies are not working or can be improved, or where there are unintended consequences negatively affecting your constituencies. But you are not just gadflies and critics, you can create political space for real action,” she said.
Palmer said a strong civil society would help local NGOs to get more funding from America rather than international NGOs.
STEPS Chief of Party Bedilu Shegen said the conference represents the commitment of USAID through the STEPS activity, to supporting a vibrant civil society in Malawi that can efficiently deliver services and advocate for policies that lead to lasting change.
“STEPS programme supports efforts of partners with the aim of strengthening their institutional capacity. We have so far helped about 25-30 civil society organisations but one question which is constantly raised is how we can provide similar support to other organisations that are not STEPS partners, so this conference is responding to that question,” said Shegen.
He said the main areas which the conference will focus on are governance, development, financial management and also some aspects of CSO operations like how to coordinate resources and efforts to respond to the current humanitarian crisis in Malawi as a result of the food shortage.
“We are bringing all CSOs together so that they can share best practices and establish networks with other organisations in Africa. So we are bringing in experts from the region, United States and Malawi to discuss areas of institutional capacity so that they can help learn from each other,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :