MHRRC says corruption causing  poverty, misery  in rural communities 

Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC) has warned in strongest terms that it will remain an  insurmountable  challenge for rural communities to attain meaningful development  unless concerted efforts are made to wipe out theft and massive corruption muzzling    development programmes.

Kaliya: Corruption is cause of poverty

Acting Director of MHRRRC,  Emma Kaliya  said during an interface meeting  held at Wenya Traditional Court , in the area of Chief Mwenewenya, in Chitipa District.

MHRRC organized a meeting to provide a forum  to members of the communities to give feed -back on the services and their  standards   key government sectors of education, agriculture, water, forest and environment and health pledged to provide, following a service charter  the two sides have agreed on.

Under a project, Enhancing  Citizen Voice and Action in Local Governance and Development Process, MHRRC bank-rolled by Dan Church Aid (DCA) recently  facilitated the  signing of a service charter  between the five sectors, as duty bearers and community members  who are service users, a social compact agreement which is  potential to  ensure   that target community   beneficiaries  always have easy access to consistent and quality services designed to promote their wellbeing.

The objective of the project is to build right holders’ capacity  to demand services of their choice from duty bearers and to be masters of their own development destination.

She  observed that theft and wide spread corruption, especially  during  implementation of donor and government sponsored development projects, interfere with successful execution of the projects which intend to alleviate poverty in rural  communities .

Kaliya, who is also chair person of  for NGO Gender Coordination  Network, then underscored the need to empower community members to press for accountability  and transparency on use of  funds from those who take charge in  management of  development  projects resources.

She warned, “Unless efforts are made to empower project beneficiaries in the communities to track   project resources, ill-intentioned people assigned roles to implement projects   will continue diverting resources for their own  personal gains and the people will remain in abject poverty.”

The  Director argued that if all resources meant for the enhancement of development in rural communities were put to uses intended for, most rural areas of the country could have transformed beyond recognition by now, going by huge sums of money government and its development partners have, for decades,  pumped into the communities to spur development.

She, however, said  fighting corruption in all quarters of the society  calls for collaborative efforts due to  the vice’s  complexity, elusiveness and deep rootedness in some  non patriotic  service providers.

On this vein, the gender activist took a swipe at   high profile NGOs and  Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), some of which she said were highly corrupted but only point fingers at public sectors and government as the ones  who are too corrupt.

She challenged, “ Most of the NGOs and CSOs who accuse others of corruption are themselves too corrupt. They have ripped off Malawians for a long time, by targeting them with projects that never benefited them.”

Kaliya disclosed that  most corrupt  NGOs use to siphon project funds through  impoverished community based organization (CBOs) which  have no capacity to question some of abnormal and complicated transactions for bogus activities.

Chitipa Director of Planning and Development, (DPD) Tamanya Harawa has made an order that all NGOs and CSOs  implementing projects in the district must bring  project plans to his office and update it  through  periodic  project progress reports, ostensibly, in an  attempt to check corruption.

Meanwhile, Programme Officer(PO) for Active Citizenship for DCA in Malawi, John Chawinga said his  organization will continue to collaborate with development  partners who show determination to  strengthen citizen voices in demanding   services and projects which can alleviate the plight of the rural poor.

Said Chawinga, “DCA will continue providing technical and financial support to our development partners who intend to roll out projects  which will improve right holders’ access to quality services  to promote their welfare.”

Chawinga said it was encouraging to note that soon after  MHRRC  launched the project, community members in the project area  have been charged and are able to participate in development project planning processes, a development he said will always ensure that projects  implemented are those which will indeed  meet the pressing needs of   communities.

“What we have to know is that  development is a Right and active participation by  beneficiaries in all stages of project implementation is itself the best right- based approach to development planning, which has to be promoted as it ensures ownership and sustainability of projects,” said Chawinga.

Chief Mwenewenya commended MHRRC and DCA for launching the project  in his area, saying it has helped his subjects to access quality services besides bridging the gap that used to exist between service providers and service users.

Chitipa District Commissioner, Grace Chirwa also talked highly of the project, which among other benefits, she said it has helped  to minimize tensions between her office and councilors who used to clash over control and  use of development resources and project  identifying criteria.

MHRRC is implementing the three year project in Chitipa   and Dowa Districts, targeted due to their  poor accountability of public funds, which lead to undesired service delivery that deprive residents social amenities to uplift their livelihood.

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