Malawi—Local Government Accountability and Performance (LGAP)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development, U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Duration: 2016-2021

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Malawi

Solutions: Governance

More than 20 years have passed since Malawi held its first multi-party elections. The government is now renewing its efforts to decentralize—based on the principle that sustainable socioeconomic development is best achieved when decisions are made locally. Institutional tensions and confusion over responsibilities between government units continue to hinder successful decentralization, despite having a strong governance framework in place. District budgets are still allocated by the central government with little local input, political patronage and lack of supervision have led to a cycle of poor performance by public servants, and crucial information is not shared between levels of government. Pervasive constraints such as these contribute to the failure of local governments to deliver basic services to citizens, which undermines government credibility and public faith in the system.

To ensure more citizens benefit from the effects of decentralization, the Local Government Accountability and Performance (LGAP) activity works across eight districts to improve local government performance and transparency, increase citizen engagement, and strengthen the enabling environment for decentralization in Malawi.

DAI is taking an integrated systems approach that includes providing local government employees with the tools and skills to improve the quality of service, as well as incentivizing collaboration among local government institutions. Initiatives are district-led, reinforcing ownership, and accountability by local stakeholders and improving their capacity to sustain progress.

View Episodes Two and Three here and here to learn more.

Sample Activities

  • Provide targeted capacity-building assistance specific to the roles and requirements of various public servants, with a focus on solving locally relevant problems rather than broad standardized training.
  • Identify performance gaps and work closely with embedded teams and local change agents to facilitate institutional reforms and improve organizational effectiveness.
  • Improve the government accountability system by strengthening existing mechanisms, such as community scorecards and service management committees, while introducing new accountability tools, including public service charters and social audits.
  • Create a dynamic space for collaboration with programs led by USAID and other donors also working in LGAP districts, integrating development activities at the community, district, and national levels.

Select Results

  • Provided integrated financial management information system training to every single finance staff and non-finance manager responsible for approving spending in all 28 districts of Malawi.
  • Improved government human resources function by aligning payroll with an accurate headcount; conducting vacancy analysis; updating staff returns; review of personal emoluments; clarifying terms and conditions of service, and working conditions; and supporting recruitment.
  • Developed a Teacher-Performance Assessment System, revamped the school inspection system to uphold national standards, and developed professional certification for teachers.
  • Developed public expenditure tracking tools.
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