Resource Mobilisation in Malawi: Challenges and Opportunities Part I

For the past 5 years, I have consulted for many developmental projects in Malawi and abroad. As much as I have been in the development sector for the past ten years, the past 5 years have been profound because I ventured into full-time as a development consultant, giving me an opportunity to work with various development partners from members of parliament, government, non-governmental organizations, and private sector.

First, let me mention that developing Malawi is possible, most NGOs and government programs are just missing a few things that can be corrected. By development, I mean the creation of wealth. It involves ongoing economic, social, and environmental improvement. Sustaining a desirable environment; having a vital social system that fosters collaboration, equity, and freedom; and a vital economy that is diverse, competitive, and accessible. It is an open secret that development increases choices sustain positive attitudes, improves the function of institutions, and enhances the quality of life. However, resource mobilization remains key in the implementation of sustainable development projects. Most organizations in Malawi and many developing countries are struggling with resource mobilization. For today, I will share two reasons behind the struggle.

The first challenge is a misallocation of resources. You can agree with me that most of the money for development projects hardly reaches the intended beneficiaries. It mostly ends in what is “administrative costs” most of which are so huge beyond imagination. In most cases, only less than 30% of the project budget reaches the intended beneficiaries. I once consulted for a mushroom project in the central region of Malawi, and thousands of dollars were spent on this project. A special project office was created, and project staff were employed and paid “good” salaries. However, the project could not release more money to buy more seedlings for the youth to grow mushrooms. Not because there was no money, but because most of the money was allocated to administration and not actual implementation. Amidst this quagmire, the youth were still expected to grow more mushrooms, does it make sense? Not at all and the project miserably failed. Most of the donors today have realized this challenge and they now hardly fund projects that allocate more funds to the administration than the beneficiaries.

The other challenge with resource mobilization in Malawi is the lack of involvement of the beneficiaries/communities in project planning. Most of the development partners in Malawi do not involve the beneficiaries in project planning. As a result, they struggle with resource mobilization. One thing they don’t realize is that once beneficiaries are involved in project planning, they own the project. They contribute to the project, they become part of it. We have witnessed so many projects where the community contributed in various ways by molding bricks, fetching water, and sometimes contributing in terms of monetary resources. It should be noted that many communities have built networks, cultivated local enthusiasm, and developed substantial capability, turning this into very real economic and social benefits. Yet I contend that many initiatives described as rural development often contribute to infrastructure or community organization, but with little change in the community “rethinking”, networks, or overall capability.

The key drivers of successful resource mobilization include the passion and motivation of people’s attitudes toward self-help, effective local leadership, and organization. So far World Connect’s development model has been effective, it engages local people to decide what they want and contribute in cash and in-kind towards the development initiative.

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