A study into implementation of the 2012/2013 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) in Malawi has revealed that Kasungu registered 13 500 ghost villages in the just ended farming season, a rise from 12 788 last year.
The revelations are in sharp contrast to previous assessments which rated the district as a star performer in 2009 and 2010.
District commissioner for Kasungu Harrison Lende has since vowed to clean up the mess, saying stern measures will be taken against the culprits
Results of the study, which was conducted by Good Health Youth Organisation under the Kalondolondo programme, were released on Thursday during a district interface meeting organised to assess the programme.
We do not have figures to compare Kasungu to other districts, but according to Kalondolondo, this is the worst performance of the 2012/2013 Fisp programme.
According to Kasungu district agricultural development officer (Dado), Jackson Mkombezi, the 13 500 ghost villages are an increase from last year’s 12 788, against 1 615 gazetted.
Mkombezi said after consultations with the DC’s office prior to implementation of this year’s programme, the council maintained last season’s figures.
Persistent wrangles among chiefs in the district are contributing to the creation of new villages, according to the study.
What I am saying is that normally the field extension workers and the group village heads are the ones that create ghost villages for their own benefit. When they do that, our traditional authorities are not aware until such a time they are receiving the coupons. That’s when the T/As know of the existence of these ghost villages. Only then do they start snatching the coupons.
“I have since asked T/As as well as the office of the Dado to discipline such unscrupulous village heads and officials. I will see to it myself that the culprits are brought to book or suspended to help restore the integrity of the system; otherwise, this is unwarranted for,” said Lende.
The DC also said there is need for stakeholders in the programme to coordinate their work instead of operating in isolation as is currently the case.
Lende said the Kasungu Agricultural Development Division used to sideline the council during planning meetings; a situation he said was posing a challenge during implementation of the programme.
Commanding officer for Kasungu Police John Nyondo bemoaned the culture of silence among communities in the district, saying people do not speak out when they see such malpractices.
“Kasungu will continue to face the same challenges year in, year out, simply because people are afraid to speak out. But as police, we will continue hunting for the suspects now that information has been forthcoming,” said Nyondo.
Programme manager for Kalondolondo Jephther Mwanza expressed disappointment with the findings.
“What it simply means is that community-based workers are not pulling in the same direction with government. Through such trickery, the village heads and extension workers are actually defeating government’s efforts in trying to improve livelihoods,” he said
Kalondolondo, which is a community-based monitoring organisation run by a consortium of Plan, Council for Non-governmental Organisations (Congoma) and Action Aid, works in 14 districts in the country.