Monday, November 19, 2012

The power of community voice

 By Redson Damalekani

Empowering and building the capacity of community Based Groups is the key to positive social change as demonstrated by Mwawihe-Mgumera Radio Listeners’ Club (RLC),  one of the Community Based Group in T/A Juma  in  Mulanje District.
Community members around Mgumera-Mwawihe have been facing problems to cross Nkokanguwo River  during rainy season because the bridge was washed away many years ago and  school children at Mgumera Primary School had to abandon school because they could not cross the flooded river.  Local farmers who sell their farm produce at Nkando market were also  affected as they could not take their farm produce to key market places, impacting on their economic sustainability.

The dry part of Nkokanguwo River
Community members approached the Member of Parliament for the area in 2010 who responded by sending a contractor to construct a bridge with funds from the District Assembly. The project was however suspended at the early stages of construction and reasons for suspension were not clearly known to the community, raising community anger and suspicion. 
When the Mwawihe-Mgumera Radio Listeners Club was formed and trained by ADRA Malawi, it raised the Nkokanguwo Bridge as the priority advocacy issue for the radio programming. When news did the rounds that the issues was going on Zatonse Radio Program, the contractor started working on the bridge. 
The bridge out look after advocacy campaigns
During radio programing local authorities were interviewed on the progress of the bridge and they hinted that the project would be completed soon.  
The contractor said that the project was stopped due to lack of construction materials. He said however that the materials were purchased and work was in progress.
 The Communication for Social Program has empowered the Radio listeners club in the area with skills to identify and discuss advocacy issues before producing radio programs. When interviewed people in the area expressed happiness with progress of  work on the bridge.  
The bridge connects areas between Nkando and Namphungo. The Action for Social Change Program with support from Denmark is empowering communities in the area to advocate for issues affecting them.

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