Rumphi District in Malawi’s Northern Region has no history of active youth participation in decision-making at district and community levels. There is a technical committee for young people, but it is part of the District Aids Coordination Committee and has been unable to champion the participation of youth in various activities. The government is, however, trying to promote the formation of youth networks at community level.
This working paper lays out the conceptual foundations for undertaking an action research based programme that seeks to strengthen citizen engagement with the state and improve governance. The Mwananchi programme, as it is called, works to enhance political leverage for citizens as they engage with their governments at different levels so that citizen voice becomes one of the agents that makes state institutions more accountable and responsive to citizens. The strategy is to work with interlocutors of the citizen–state relationship: media, civil society organisations (CSOs), and elected representatives and traditional leaders.
With six organisations already part of Mwananchi Ghana (MG) and five expected to sign up soon, the programme continues to grow. Below are the organisations’ names and projects they are implementing.
Like the Crested Crane, one of the most beautiful birds found in Uganda, networks and coalitions beautify the Civil Society landscape. Like birds of the same feathers, the networks and coalitions flock and dance together. This is even reflected in the grantees that are part of the Mwananchi programme in the East African country. In a sense the country’s history has acted as a magnet that has brought most Civil Society Organisations together and with it the realisation that there is strength in numbers. For example, it has been learnt in Uganda that when engaging policy makers it was better to approach them as a coalition than as individual organisations. In this respect the ‘community of practice’ concept of the Mwananchi programme can easily find a nest on the shores of Lake Victoria.
A story of change -Lameck Masina.
In the southern Malawian city of Zomba, the Development Communications Trust (DCT) is using the power of radio to amplify local voices in development.
Hassan Nakata, the DCT’s facilitator of the Liwu Lathu project – the name means “our voice” in Chichewa – at DCT says the strategy is to use radio listening clubs where communities come together to discuss issues to do with development, and then use the recordings to raise them with relevant authorities.
Malita Nkhoma, 12, Mkhumba in Phalombe district is tired. She has just come back from school and needs to rest but she cannot afford the luxury of putting her feet up because she is expected to collect water for use by her family of eight.
Malita, a Standard Five pupil, is the eldest girl in the family and tradition demands that she should provide water for all household use which include bathing, washing and cooking.
This report outlines some useful guidelines for journalists and was produced by IPS Africa.
The Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), a Blantyre-based human rights NGO, is working on a project that will empower rural people to demand their rights under the law.
The nine-month project, known as Access to Justice, mainly focuses on working with communities in the Traditional Authority Nthache area, in the southern district of Mwanza.
Implemented by the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), the Liu Lathu Reclaiming Right to Development project is designed to increase civil society and community awareness, knowledge and skills for enhancing accountability in the use of public resources at the district level. The intention is to generate more effective participation of communities in decision-making, and to increase the ability of communities to advocate for policies, laws, and practices that contribute to national poverty reduction.
Title: Women’s Rights Lobby
Background: Ordinary people in Rumphi District have limited access to budget and other information regarding development processes. Though the district development planning system is supposed to be a bottom-up process, most community members have little inkling about the functioning of the Local Development Fund (LDF) and the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or how they can access development finance. As a consequence, most community members do not participate in development processes and do not know how to take their leaders to task.