1st July, 2021
Real experiences always have value and highly keep memories. One of the platforms being recognized to provide real experiences, is exchange/learning visits. The exchange visit is designed to achieve a suitable environment to learn from each other through sharing ideas, experiences and best practices.
In the quest of enhancing developmental stakeholders’ skills and knowledge, MEJN facilitated an exchange visit which was held in Nsanje District on Thursday, 1st July, 2021. Exchange/Learning visit is one of the components in a social accountability project entitled “Enhancing Social Accountability for Better Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III Development Results and Outcomes” which MEJN is implementing and aims at enhancing compliance and responsiveness by duty bearers in the implementation of the MGDS III for development results and outcomes. The learning visit intended to enhance developmental actors’ skills and knowledge through exchanging ideas, experiences, lessons and best practices as they strive to attain a common goal.
It brought together participants from Salima and Nsanje Districts, including Councillors, Council Officials, MEJN chapter members and Area Development Committees (ADCs) members from Makanjira, Kuluunda, and Ndindi in Salima District; and Chimombo, Ndamera and Malemia from Nsanje. The participants visited various projects sites such like Nsanje Bus Depot, Nsanje Market, Nsanje-Malaka Road, Nsanje Hospital Mortuary and Nsanje Community Ground. Not only visiting the projects, the participants were also engaged in an an interface meeting where practical experiences in alignment with their field of operation were shared.
In expressing her appreciation, Esther Soko, a Chairperson of Council in Salima District states that, “The exchange visit platform has been so profound and an eye opener as it has broaden our skills and knowledge such that we become more instrumental and competent in executing our duties and following through and monitoring of developments happening in our respective designations”.
Echoing to the notion, Angella Spank, Malemia ADC member stated that the exchange visit has comprehensively enhanced capacity in approaching developmental affairs, given an opportunity to efficiently execute obligatory duties as communities’ representatives, and built a cordial working relationship.
In his remarks, Senior Chief Malemia who made an impromptu visit during cross-learning exercise, expressed his gratitude to MEJN for the intervention which has created a benchmark for sharing developmental ideas, experiences and practices. “Most importantly”, according to Malemia, “MEJN and IM Swedish Development Partner should proceed engaging developmental actors, such include community leaders, Members of Parliament, Communities at the grassroot level, Non-State Actors among others in these initiatives; as the trend will not only create a platform to share ideas but also necessitate developmental actors to adhere to good-governance principles that embrace accountability and transparency, equitability, dialogue and engagement, and legitimacy in developmental matters“.
Among other things that were observed and emerged as the fruitions of the project, including proficient budget tracking and monitoring of developments; influencing decisions that aligned to effective and efficient public service delivery; District Development Plan (DDP) conceptualizes community issues on priority basis, gender mainstreaming and women empowerment; able to write projects proposals, project management; holding duty bearers accountable for improved public service delivery; calling-off the projects that are of sub-standard and threatens livelihood of the communities; advocating for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) prevention and mitigation; and ADCs in collaboration with MEJN chapter members have put in place oversight measures in public health centers to ensure that there is a zero tolerance of drug theft.
The exchange visit was worthwhile and brought about mutual benefits. It has also been evidently deemed to be a substantial routine to building mutual relationship and efficiently contribute to knowledge sharing in developmental affairs.
A five-year social accountability project is being technically and financially supported by IM Swedish Development Partner, and expected to be completed in 2022.