MALAWI CASHGATE REPORT PDF

Share via Email A Malawian activist takes part in a protest in Blantyre against the endemic corruption revealed by an audit of government finances. Photograph: AFP A senior official has been shot, millions of dollars are missing and there are suspects at the highest level of government. It is likely to result in public service cuts, with district officials potentially left without the resources to fund even the most basic provisions such as ambulances or medicines. The experiences of ordinary people, however, have rarely been reported, despite the participation and empowerment rhetoric that dominates the development debate.

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Share via Email A Malawian activist takes part in a protest in Blantyre against the endemic corruption revealed by an audit of government finances. Photograph: AFP A senior official has been shot, millions of dollars are missing and there are suspects at the highest level of government.

It is likely to result in public service cuts, with district officials potentially left without the resources to fund even the most basic provisions such as ambulances or medicines. The experiences of ordinary people, however, have rarely been reported, despite the participation and empowerment rhetoric that dominates the development debate.

Citizens losing out is a familiar political story, but what can be done about it? At its core was the recognition that politics and accountability are vital to improve services, and that aid donors ignore this at their peril. Its ideas have gained traction, but judging from experiences in Malawi we still have some way to go. When these relationships break down, or if they have never existed, citizens are unable to hold politicians to account and policymakers are unable to monitor or sanction service providers — the "long route" to accountability.

Equally, citizens as clients are unable to exercise control over providers — the "short route". This recognises that for most people, all politics is local — whether teachers show up for school on time, health centres remain open or the police treat the public fairly.

In Malawi, however, this has not been enough. Citizen participation in committees is often poor, and decentralisation has been ad hoc and fragmented. Political power remains concentrated at the national level, meaning there is little or no local accountability in practice.

This has led to the poor performance of many key services, with staff often unsure who reports to whom. There is often little accountability for service providers or for politicians, resulting in a dysfunctional system that echoes the broader national problem.

Is the problem too big to be fixed? Should we consign the WDR to the scrapheap of once influential reports? Not necessarily. There is growing experience in Malawi of community scorecards , which have led to concrete improvements in service delivery. There are examples of donors providing more effective support, from a rural water programme in Tanzania to addressing healthworker pay and attendance in Sierra Leone.

Such initiatives, however, are too often isolated one-offs. What is clear, and has been for some time, is that meaningful change for citizens requires a political agenda. None of these would have been possible without being part of a political project, backed up by organisations from social movements and political parties to trade unions and professional associations.

It is a tricky nut to crack, but in trying to solve a problem like Malawi, it is worth taking another look at the WDR You would have thought the penny might have dropped by now. Development conference Ten years after its publication, the ODI and the World Bank are hosting a conference to examine the main themes of the world development report. The conference takes place in Washington on 28 February and 1 March, and will be streamed live on the internet.

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