The government of Malawi has launched a major new partnership between 20 district councils and the Local Government Accountability and Performance (LGAP) project, which is co-financed by USAID and UKAID.
The new Memorandum of Understanding will support 20 district councils in Malawi to strengthen development planning and implementation, financialmanagement, human resource,and health and education services, among key areas, building on lessons from work in eight districts over the past three years.
It will further deepenthe capacity of councils, improve their working environment, and build a broader framework for implementing the public reforms agenda of the government for the primary benefit of the citizens.
This new development follows the national expansion of LGAP project earlier this year to all 28 districts in Malawi aimed at enhancing governance systems at the district council level.
Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Charles Kalemba, believes the new partnership will improve systems in councils,enabling them to provide quality public social services to majority rural Malawians.
"We applaud this commitment from our partners like USAID and DFID in supporting our new 20 district councils.
"This is good news because it will complement our existing efforts to make our councils capable and provide better services for local people," said Kalemba.
Chitipa District Commissioner Humphrey Gondwe, one of the 20 District Commissioners committed to the cause, described the partnership as timely and poised to bolster transparency and accountability in council operations, thereby transforming councils to deliver better services to the citizens in the district.
Said Gondwe: "This partnership will improve our development planning and implementation through reviewing our DDP [District Development Plan], revamping the decentralized local structures and reviewing our M&E frameworks. It will also enhance our human resource performance through systems' improvements and integration."
Key areas for support are improving local government performance and transparency, increasing demand for accountable government, strengthening decentralization policy and systems, improving public service performance systems, and enhancing pubic finance management related to human resources.
Successes and lessons from the eight districts where the project has been implemented in the past three years will be shared to all the other district councils, guided by the Local Authorities Performance Assessment tool to respond to gaps by councils in district planning, human resources, public financial management and cross cutting issues such as gender, youth and special needs groups, among others.
"Our human resource will be re-energized considering the project's tested performance in the pilot eight district councils. We pledge our devoted support inform of cooperation, human resource availability, transport (vehicles) provision,and other resources available in the Council. We look forward to a cordial working relationship," said Gondwe.
Through this partnership, LGAP will support the Government of Malawi as it devolves personnel, finances, and service delivery responsibilities to increasingly autonomous district councils.
It will also provide support to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to strengthen the policy and regulatory framework for decentralization.
The support extends to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in the implementation of education governance interventions in primary schools across the country.