NGO orients community members on right to development, lobbying

Community action group (CAG) members and Community Journalists (CJs) from Lupembe and Mbande in the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu in Karonga have been challenged to rise above partisan politics and start initiating various developmental activities in their areas for the benefit of community members regardless of their political party affiliations.

The call was made on Tuesday at the end of a two day orientation meeting Justice and Peace under Karonga diocese organized for CAG members at St. Mary’s Hall as one way of empowering the community in rights to development, lobbying and advocacy.

Speaking on behalf of the CAG members after the meeting, Lupembe area development committee chairperson (ADC) Humphrey Msowoya said the orientation has enlightened their eyes as issues tackled during the two day meeting will help them to follow up all development funded projects implemented by the government through the district council.

“The importance of this meeting cannot be over emphasized as it has taught us lessons that we as community members have to be vigilant and demand for transparency and accountability whenever we have projects that are funded by development funds such as DDF, CDF and LDF.

“We have also learnt that we as right holders, we have the duty and responsibility to push and demand for social amenities as right to development is one of those human rights issues that we have to take seriously and take to task our elective and duty bearers if they are playing hide and seek on issues to do with development,” Msowoya said.

JP Field Officer Vincent Bwinga said the orientation aimed at equipping CAG members with skills to systematically track down how public development resources from central government to councils are used.

“We decided to conduct this workshop after we noted the gap that was there between CAG, community members and duty bearers and we thought we could build capacity to impart skills that they could use to advocate for development and monitor the whole process so that there should be no room of abusing public resources,” Bwinga said.

Bwinga further said that as a governance institution, JP expects CAG members to carry skills learnt to the community members so that each and every person should be able to lobby, advocate, and demand for district development plans (DDP) budget for any development activity and financial reports from duty bearers.

The two day meeting drew together CAG members and CJs from the two ADCs of Lupembe and Mbande. JP of the Karonga diocese is implementing a three year CALGA project in Karonga and Chitipa districts with funding from Irish Aid through Danish Church Aid (DCA) as the community’s action tool to contribute towards transparency and accountability in the management of local development resources in district councils.