Malawi CSOs score lowly in sustainability index

Results for the 2021 Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index (CSOSI) for Malawi show that the CSOs overall sustainability attained a score of 5.5 which, according to the results, means “sustainability was impeded”.

However, the Institute of Public Opinion and Research (IPOR) which disseminated the CSOSI results on Monday in Lilongwe, says Malawian CSOs operated in a “generally stable environment”.

The CSOSI reports on the strength and viability of the civil society sector using a standard scoring template, with a focus on seven key dimensions.

These are: legal environment, organization capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, sectorial infrastructure and public image.

Speaking during the dissemination of the results, IPOR Director of Training and Programmes, Dr. Michael Chasukwa, said Covid-19 pandemic-related funding cuts mainly shrank service provision and financial viability of the CSOs, which compromised and impeded overall sustainability.

“CSOs have been struggling to operate because of lack of funding. Donor and development partners turned focus to Covid-19 and channelled their resources to interventions exclusively fighting the pandemic.

“Lack of accountability in the CSOs is another challenge. Development partners and charities got frustrated. This has negatively affected the flow of resources channelled to local  CSOs,” he said.

Chasukwa further said the CSOSI results recommend that local CSOs should stop being over dependent on donors and diversify their sources of funding.

“Development partners, sometimes, shift focus. And this is having implications on how far local CSOs would implement their interventions.

“CSOs should also invest in improving their public image which must reflect goodness in their accountability, transparency, trust and credibility issues,” he said.

According to the results, the CSOs scored 5.5 on legal environment, 5.5 on organization capacity, 6.6 on financial viability, 4.2 on advocacy, 4.4 on  service provision, 5.3 on sectorial infrastructure and 4.7 on public image.

The study has hailed the CSOs on advocacy, saying they did a commendable job.

Executive Director for Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre, Emma Kaliya, promptly welcomed the CSOSI results, saying they are a true reflection of the situation on the ground.

“We depend so much on donors whom we deal with through international NGOs, which is resulting into so many problems.

“We compete and scramble for resources with international NGOs. As a result, our efforts as local NGOs are really fruitless.

“CSO networks, which brought us together, became irrelevant when donors stopped funding them. Now everyone is trying to survive on their own. There is no longer coordination.

“There is a need for strengthening of the local CSO networks through CONGOMA. Otherwise we spend in vain 80 percent of our time writing and rewriting project proposals that would never pass for funding,” said Kaliya, a renowned gender activist.

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