Action Aid Malawi in partnership with the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) recently (15th August, 2016) briefed some Parliamentary committees on an accountability project that seeks to contribute to improved transparency and accountability in public expenditure.
The aim of the meeting was to sensitize Members of Parliament in their respective roles as committee chairpersons about the project, to highlight major programmes that will be carried out in the project, to increase the appetite of Members of Parliament for increased accountability and oversight functions and to align activities of the project to the Parliamentary calendar.
The project titled “Enhancing citizen’s participation in budget tracking and monitoring for equitable and sustainable development in Malawi”, is a 3-year project funded by the European Union.
The project, whose total budget is 555,000.00 Euros and is implemented in Nsanje, Phalombe, Mchinji and Rumphi districts, also seeks to strengthen civil society organisations (CSOs) and communities ‘participation in planning, budget analysis, and expenditure tracking for effective public services delivery.
Explaining the project result areas to chairpersons of the Parliamentary committees and their technical teams, Action Aid Malawi project coordinator for the EU project Tiwonge Kumwenda explained that the project will enhance district councils’ capacity to promote accountable and inclusive governance.
She also pointed out that the project will strengthen CSOs coordination networking and collaboration for increased advocacy on public resources management at district and national level. Other result areas of the project are increased citizen participation in meaningful policy dialogue to promote transparency and accountability for effective public resources management; and increased participation of the media in promoting social accountability at local and national level, she said.
Through the Project, Members of Parliament and Parliamentary clerks will be have their capacity built in the areas of Budget Planning, Tracking and on how they can their enhance their oversight role in Public Resource Management. The targeted Parliamentary Committees are Health, Education, Budget and Agriculture.
Kumwenda further explained that the project will also increase citizen participation in meaningful policy dialogue to promote transparency and accountability for effective public resources management.
Kumwenda explained that development structures at the local level such as the Area Development Committees (ADC), Village Development Committees (VDCs), councillors, CSOs, and the local media, who are supposed to be the starting point in leading and guiding communities on development priorities lack the skills and knowhow to engage with the budgeting processes and effectively lobby for inclusive budgets and effective expenditure.
CISANET National Director Tamani Nkhono-Mvula who opened the meeting thanked the parliamentarians for showing commitment to work with Action Aid Malawi and CISANET on the project and called on them to engage in the Project activities for the benefit of all Malawians.
Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs Richard Chimwendo Banda supported the project noting that citizens are very important in social accountability and that they need support to track the funds the Central Government channels to Local Councils.
Meanwhile, Action Aid Malawi also briefed the parliamentarians on another project “Strengthening Social Accountability and Oversight Capacity for Rights-based Public Resources Management in Health and Agriculture in Southern Africa”.
The project seeks to improve public resource management in agriculture (food security), and health (HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health and rights) by strengthening the oversight and social accountability roles of five target groups-parliamentary committees, government departments, CSOs, farmer organisations and media-in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique.