Councils Challenged on Projects

Local councils in the country have been asked to be more vigilant in designing flagship development projects to enable them access funding from the Governance for enable Service Project( GESP)

National Coordinator for GESP, Charles Chunga, challenged the district councils in Blantyre during the panel discussion which was aimed at sensitizing the public about the GESP activities.

Chunga said it is worrisome that many councils submit piercemeal projects that could not be funded by the project.

“We are expecting durable, tangible and not piecemeal projects. This will go along the way to improve and increase competition in development projects among the councils as well as making the citizens to fully own the projects,” said Chunga

The National Coordinator said citizen governance project was aimed at boosting the projects at council levels in terms of finances resources, capacity building, human resources and supporting trainings for the councils.

He said the project further aimed at addressing bottlenecks in the areas of decentralization.

According to him, GESP project has so far disbursed a total of MK4.9 billion to the councils in 2021 financial year for implementing around 250 projects.

Chirwa said the project was expected to distribute over MK17.7 billion for the 400 projects this financial year.

“This is a performance based grant project which us reviewed every year. So we assess the performance of councils based on the score so that we know how much to give to each council, “he said

However, Chunga said some councils were channeling the funds to projects that were not a priority and not deemed for the project design.

In a separate interview, Chairperson for the Citizen Engagement Committee, Edward Chileka Banda, said his committee was not satisfied particularly on how to use the public resources.

Banda said the local resources assessment results indicated that many councils were struggling to use the funds proficiently due to lack of capacity and fraud.

“They are a lot of frauds happening as people want to by pass the procedures so that they benefit. We have witnessed a lot of delayed and small projects. Other projects are too expensive and only exist on paper, ” he said

Banda, who is also an executive director for citizen alliance, observed that the projects were marred by political interference as politicians exert pressure to use the funds they way they wanted.

“Politicians should be the ones to fully protect the local resources. But its unfortunate that they are at the forefront in abusing the money, “Banda said

John Bamusi, the chairperson for the Balaka civil society network asked the Implementors to be accountable and open with the project funds.

He advised the implementors to make sure that they engage the citizens at local level as the full owners of the public resources.

Governance for enable services ( GESP) is a five year joint grant project between Malawi government and world Bank.

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