MHRRC blames poverty in rural communities on corruption

Chitipa, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC) has warned 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.

MHRRC Acting Director, Emma Kaliya made the warning Wednesday during an interface meeting held at Wenya Traditional Court , in the area of Chief Mwenewenya, in Chitipa District.

Kaliya 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.

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.

Kaliya, who is also chairperson for Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Gender Coordination Network, 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.

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 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.

Kaliya challenged most of the NGOs and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who accuse others of corruption are themselves too corrupt and they have ripped off Malawians for a long time, by targeting them with projects that never benefited them.

She 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.

Director of Planning and Development (DPD) for Chitipa, 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.

Programme Officer 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.

He said, 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.

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.

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.

MHRRC, under a project, Enhancing Citizen Voice and Action in Local Governance and Development Process, 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.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA