Govt may take 50 years to fulfil Chakwera’s promise of 793 houses for persons with albinism

Persons with albinism in Malawi may have to wait for 49.56 years to be accommodated in secure houses, which the government promised to construct in an effort to measure to enhance their security.
In June 2021, at the commemoration of the International Albinism Awareness Day at Chigumula Ground in Nkhotakota, President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera announced that this administration would build 793 secure and durable houses of people with albinism in the next five years.
Chakwera disclosed that that the government had set aside K400 million in the 2021-2022 national budget for the project.

Kapenuka–Government should devolve the project to district councils–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu
In its plan, the government intends to construct fenced houses, which are strategically close to other houses in the community to ensure that people with albinism receive maximum security from the neighbours as well as community members since most people with albinism have mostly been targeted by criminals who hold beliefs that body parts of people with albinism contain magical powers that bring good luck.
The houses will also have toilets, bathrooms, store rooms and kitchens all inside a brick wall fence to provide maximum security during day and night.
But four months before the expiry of this financial year, the government – through the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development in collaboration with the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, has managed to complete only 16 houses of the 28 it planned to construct in 13 districts of Karonga, Mzimba, Kasungu, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu, Mangochi, Machinga, Mulanje, Neno, Mwanza and Nsanje.
This is according to the ministerial statement former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Sam Kawale, made in the National Assembly during the last sitting of parliament.
Chinkhunta (in khaki vest) poses for a photo with lucky beneficiaries of the 16 completed houses in first phase of the project–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

Simple mathematics suggests that if this is the pace at which the government is going to proceed with the project, it will need close to 50 years to fulfill the presidential promise to people with albinism in Malawi.

Malawi Human Rights Resources Centre (MHRRC) and Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) have expressed disappointment with the development, fearing such delays could create even anxiety among people with albinism.
MHRRC Programme Officer Enock Chinkhuntha, whose organization is implementing Cultivating an Environment for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (CEPPAM) Project with funding from European Union (EU) through the Christian Blind Mission, suggested that the government should allocate at least K6 million of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) towards construction of secure houses for vulnerable populations, including people with albinism.
“Communities can contribute bricks and labour towards this noble cause. With 193 constituencies, it means we will have more than 193 houses per year as some houses many just need to be upgraded to meet safety and security requirements,” opined Chinkhuntha.
On his part, APAM district coordinator for Ntcheu, Precious Kapenuka, suspected that the delays in construction of the houses were a result of bureaucracy at the Capital Hill.
Kapenuka suggested that the project should be devolved to the district council levels, stressing that officials at the council are better placed to oversee and monitor such projects.
There was no immediate comment from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
Meanwhile, MHRRC has intensified a campaign to build capacity and empowerment among people to enable them gain necessary knowledge and skills to understand their rights and to hold duty-bearers to account.
The Centre also aims to eliminate all forms of violence against persons with albinism in the targeted districts, strengthening policy and legal frameworks to protect, promote and defend the rights of persons with albinism.
MHRRC is working with the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, District Councils and other human rights organizations to achieve its goal.

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