The World Bank Malawi country office has assured that it will complete the construction of a hostel at Mzuzu University (Mzuni) which stalled after the bank reportedly stopped financing the project.
Construction of the hostel financed by the World Bank at Mzuni stalled over a year ago following what the bank described as a disagreement between Government of Malawi and the contractor.
The bank’s outgoing country manager, Sandra Bloemenkamp, made the assurance to finalise construction of the project at Sunbird Mzuzu during the information dissemination forum on the Malawi Country Assistance Strategy.
This was in response to an earlier concern raised by a renowned youth activist in the city, Charles Kajoloweka who queried the bank over the tendency of freezing budgetary support whenever government implements policies which are viewed to be in conflict with the bank.
Kajoloweka argued, indirectly referring to the Mzuni Project, that the move to pull out support is the opposite of what the bank claims, thus to support the improvement of the livelihood for the poor. He said when the support is stopped abruptly, it is the grass root citizens that suffer.
However, Bloemenkamp said though the bank was funding the project, matters of project implementation was the responsibility of government and the contractor assigned to do the construction.
“Usually what happens is that the bank provides funds for a project, but it is government that deals with implementation. Therefore, if time frame for the project elapses while it is not completed, it is not the bank’s fault but rather responsible governments or contractors.
“However, we will see where we can intervene in the [Mzuni] situation, considering that as a bank, we have the responsibility of following up to see if there is progress in the projects that we fund,” she said.
The World Bank official took advantage of the meeting to make clarification on circumstances when they pull out or reduce funding if governments adopt particular policies that are not in line with theirs (the World Bank).
“What must be cleared is that, when World Bank or other donors withdraw or reduce budgetary support, it does not mean that they stop supporting the country, but what happens is that they shift the funding to other projects, like in health or other sectors but not directly supporting the budget,” explained Bloemenkamp.