Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Importance of Partnerships in Decentralized Governance.

Author: Francis Zande, ADRA Malawi Tsogolo Labwino Project Manager.


This is a lesson sharing and reflection initiative coming from a program experience in ADRA Malawi projects of SAFARI(Southern Africa Food Security and Aids Response Initiative) and LICEN(Local Initiative For Community Empowerment) in Ntcheu district and Tsogolo Labwino project in Salima district with funding from ADRA Austaralia. Each of the three projects has used an approach that works with the grass root below the last level of decentralized structure at village level. This approach has been called Kumanga Umodzi (building togetherness) and it has brought together a few villages to identify and address a number of development activities in their area. This has also helped ADRA to easily work with communities at small cluster levels and bring a deeper understanding of the need to work in groups and or partnerships.

Are these institutions important

The model that ADRA Malawi has used at village has ensured participation of many clustered community members and getting involved in development activities. This has ensured some significant representation of community members at various levels of development plans. The Kumanga Umodzi institution has consolidated the decentralized structures in such a way that most defunct Village Development Committees have awaken up from slumber and are held accountable for non performance.

The trickling up effect

Tsogolo Labwino Project in Salima is enjoying some sweet partnerships with different stakeholders ranging from government departments, NGOs, CBOs and Networks. ADRA is currently chairing the Salima Civil Society Forum ( a composition of about 20 civil society organizations) barely 6 months of opening an office in Salima. ADRA is also in the steering committee on Disaster Preparedness in the district. This is because of its keen interest to work in partnerships and share lessons and experiences. ADRA(as chair) has also lobbied Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) to start a capacity building program for organizations in the Salima Civil Society Forum in the areas of food security.

Currently ADRA through Tsogolo Labwino Project is involved in a People in Planning program (PiP) involving three NGOs i.e CARE, CONCERN UNIVERSAL and ADRA that aims at documenting best procedures for engaging grass root institutions that fall below the decentralized in communities. Already this is cementing effective collaboration among different NGOs in sharing experiences and lessons.

All this effort in making effective partnerships is a way of creating a conducive environment for grass root institutions to take a leading role in decision making that will help nurturing good governance at local level.


The key to achieve the partnerships that ensure promotion of accountability and good governance is for key players in the facilitation process(government institutions, NGOs, CBOs, Networks e.t.c) to come together and understand each other before engaging the grass root level.

In the photo: Partner NGO's CARE, ADRA,CONCERN UNIVERSAL on a People in Planning Decentralization sharing workshop in Salima.

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