Thursday, April 29, 2010

District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting in Mzuzu

By: Emma Jakobo - Project Manager

ADRA Malawi is re-establishing activities with the northern part of the country, working with the city assembly as a partner. Working with new approaches in its implementation process and as CS which is a new concept in development the initial stage to win the would be partners’ confidence is a well understood presentation on what is intended to be done so that advocacy and partnership is achieved.
It is for this cause that a DEC meeting was planned and organised for stakeholders to be briefed on ADRA Malawi’s intentions for the City Assembly. Communication and advocacy are the core activities of the project in the region using Communication For Social Change (CFSC) approach followed by some capacity building and service delivery to a lesser extent as the project tries to strengthen the capacity of targeted CBGs/CBOs, including strengthened platforms, to act as CS actors dealing with HIV/AIDS, food security and sustainable livelihood related issues.
The executive committee members welcomed the project and pledged maximum support to the planned activities asking for continued collaboration at each stage of the project. The Chief executive expressed gratitude to the organization and said people thought the organization (ADRA Malawi) is for the southern region since it is more established there, but now that it has thought of coming here, the misconceptions which people had for whatever reasons will be easily disputed. He cited to the members the fruitful meetings on two occasions which he had with the directors of ADRA Malawi as the proper channel of entry to a district unlike how some other NGOs do. He said when an NGO starts going to communities before approaching the authorities at the assembly, the end result is duplication of efforts and at times conflicts among different organizations, and it is problematic for the Assembly to come in and resolve the conflicts which is always a setback in development.
Another area which sparked a contentious discussion is that of advocacy versus service delivery. By the look of things people will still take some time to understand the approach because the feeling is like people are too poor to advocate for their issues of concern and that NGOs would rather provide services than facilitate advocacy initiatives. The meeting helped to clarify some concepts which go along with advocacy, for instance strengthening partnership for CBGs to be linked to relevant duty bearers; sensitizing and orienting communities and their CBGs on CFSC approach which empowers communities to do their own diagnosis, identify possible solutions by local and national initiatives whenever necessary. ADRA will assist in the provision of a platform for Community generated voices to be heard by the duty bearers who can be legislators, policy makers and /or any other service provider.
In his annotations the acting District AIDS Coordinator commented that there are indeed a lot of CBGs in the communities but they lack capacity to go about with their duties and responsibilities. The idea of working with already existing structures is the best approach and what these groups need is capacity building for them to know and be able to carry out what they are supposed to as a CS.
Partnership is a key approach to any development effort and this is the closing message which was passed across to all stakeholders by ADRA Malawi for cost effectiveness.

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