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Mchinji is a major tobacco-growing district in Malawi. The district experiences a huge problem with disputes relating to decision-making regarding the proceeds from tobacco sales. Domestic violence is rife and women accuse men of being greedy with proceeds from tobacco sales after husband and wife have worked together during the farming season.  Wife battery, marital rape, women being denied property after divorce, and property grabbing after the death of a husband are frequently reported problems. Yet most of these cases are not reported, or if reported are quickly withdrawn as women fear that the arrest of husbands will lead to a fall in household income.

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.

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.

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.

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.