Malawi has almost 500 NGOs, most of which are funded by international donors. But many NGOs don’t work closely with local communities, so when they leave, projects collapse.
After working in the Mulanje district for 15 years, World Vision stopped facilitating a project that provided vulnerable children with school materials and basic healthcare, and the local community with low-cost maize. The people entrusted with maintaining the project failed to pay the rent and the landlord evicted them. Now only an empty building signifies the project ever existed. World Vision relocated to another area of the country.
Fred Movete, Mulanje district commissioner, says that organisations must prioritise what the community wants if sustainability is to be achieved. “NGOs must follow the district’s development agenda so that we can carry on once they leave. But it is also a problem that the NGOs don’t implement what the community needs,” says Movete. “In the past, a lot of money [from NGOs] has been channeled to HIV/Aids. Even if we tell them our priority its water and sanitation because a lot of children are dying from waterborne diseases, they will never buy it.”