Study shows Public Works Programme enabling communities achieve food security

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By Pauline Kaude. 06 June 2017. Originally posted on Malawi News Agency.

The Public Works Programme being implemented in all 28 districts of the country has resulted in a lot of people achieving food security at household level, a study conducted by the Centre for Agriculture Research and Development (CARD) of the Lilongwe University for Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in conjunction with the Public Affairs Foundation of India has revealed.

Presenting the findings of the Citizen Report Card in Blantyre Monday, CARD Acting Director Dr. Thabbie Chilongo said the survey which was conducted in September and October 2016 revealed that a majority of beneficiaries used the cash they received under the programme to buy food.

Photo credit: Malawi News Agency

“80 percent of respondents used the cash earned to buy food related items which is consistent with the objectives of the intervention,” said Chilongo.

He said the study was the first of its kind in the country as it provided feedback from beneficiaries of public interventions.

“The Citizen Report Card unlike other ordinary surveys, puts more emphasis on letting beneficiaries of public interventions give their feedback on those services. Specifically, it aimed at assessing quality of delivery of the three programmes as perceived by the beneficiaries,” said Chilongo.

He further said beneficiaries expressed satisfaction with the programmes adding they all have potential to contribute towards poverty reduction among poor households.

The study has also revealed that there are financial loopholes especially from the beneficiary lists with exaggerated figures as well as ghost beneficiaries besides some local leaders having their own lists of beneficiaries which the LDF may not be aware of.

Ministry of Finance’s Chief Director Peter Simbani agreed with the findings saying mismanagement of the funds has indeed been an issue in some district councils and government through the Ministry of Local Government is strengthening capacity at district council level to ensure that the money is used for its intended purpose.

“We should always bear in mind that people in the communities count on councils and all related service providers to deliver programmes that will improve their livelihoods. We have seen many households’ livelihoods improved overtime, where programmes are being implemented as provided in the design and where due diligence in adherence to programmes, principles and procedures as stipulated in the guidelines is exercised,” he said.

He said government attaches great importance to the findings as they will help in service delivery coming from the beneficiaries themselves.

Meanwhile, the LDF is closely working with four district councils namely; Karonga, Mangochi, Mulanje and Mwanza to identify beneficiaries and pay wages as a way of reducing cases of anomalies and ghost workers in the said districts.

“We want to instill discipline and prudence in the way these public funds are managed,” said LDF Executive Director, Charles Mandala.

The World Bank initially provided US32 million dollars and an additional US75 million dollars based on success of the implementation of the programme.

The Bank has recently provided another US70 million dollars towards the MASAF IV project.

The Public Works Programme (PWP) provides employment at a prescribed wage rate to ultra-poor households as stipulated in the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP). It is among the three social support protection instruments being implemented by government through the Local Development Fund (LDF) under the MASAF IV project, alongside the Social Cash Transfer and Livelihood and Skills Development popularly known as COMSIP.