Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara has bemoaned what she described as the country’s “elite-driven” policies that sideline the poor instead of benefiting them.
The Speaker said this when she opened the Strengthening Civic Participation in Policy Discourses on Water and Energy in Malawi meeting organised by Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) and Freedom House in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
She said Malawi is not short of policies on provision of clean water and clean energy but faces challenges in implementation.
Said Gotani Hara: “I believe part of the problem is that most of our policies are elite driven. We rarely engage and involve the people—the ultimate beneficiaries of these policies. Now, when the people are not involved, there is no ownership.
“Increasing citizens’ participation will make public institutions more accountable and responsive to citizens’ needs.”
She said there cannot be meaningful development without sustainable energy, without clean water and without ensuring that no one is left behind.”
On his part, DWF chief of party Augustine Magolowondo said his organisation believes in developing homegrown and innovative solutions that build citizens’ capacity and provide tools enabling them to better impact their democracies, meet their obligations and claim their rights.
He said participants will learn how to use Citizen Score Cards (CSC) as a tool to empower communities to influence the quality, efficiency and accountability of service providers at the local level.
“This is a platform for citizens, represented through CSOs and NGOs, to collectively express their thoughts and aspirations on water and energy frameworks,” said Magolowondo.
The workshop attracted CSO and NGO leaders that are active in the energy, water, climate change and environmental sectors. Renewable energy practitioners and media personnel are also taking part in the three-day workshop that ends today.