Nkhata Bay district commissioner (DC) Alex Mdooko has expressed concern with the lack of a coherent settlement pattern in the district, which is affecting distribution of resources.
Speaking on Thursday when the Local Development Fund (LDF) was disbursing funds to beneficiaries under the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP), Mdooko said various government programmes are not bearing fruit in the district due to poor settlement patterns.
The DC said Nkhata Bay is a vast district with a population of about 260 000. He, however, said the population has settled sparsely to the extent of living in hard-to-reach areas.
Mdooko said this has affected delivery of services because programmes are scattered with very little impact on the ground.
He said: “For example, Nkhata Bay has 22 health facilities for 260 000 people scattered across the district. If we had a good settlement plan, we should have 12.
“As regards the social cash transfer programme, it is costly for us administratively because we have to reach 5 000 households in 62 clusters in areas such as Ruarwe, Usisya, Makumbo, Kanyazuka, Bula, Chitheka, Mzenga, Tchesamu most of which are accessed by ship or are in hilly terrain,” said Mdooko.
Malawi needs a settlement policy to address such challenges. People should be concentrated in one area while other areas should be reserved for farming and afforestation, He said.
Nkhata Bay is the 18th district which has been reached through government’s SCTP supported by various development partners. n