Strengthening the Capacity of CSOs to Promote Transparency and Accountability in Public Infrastructure Projects in Malawi

Strengthening the Capacity of CSOs to Promote Transparency and Accountability in Public Infrastructure Projects in Malawi

Strengthening the Capacity of CSOs to Promote Transparency and Accountability in Public Infrastructure Projects in Malawi

Overview:

Over the last nine years, under the leadership of the local chapter of the CoST Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST Malawi), many concrete steps have been taken to improve transparency, integrity and accountability of the construction sector in Malawi. However, one of the challenges that still exist is that civil society organizations (CSOs) have not been able to fully participate in this initiative because of capacity constraints in procurement, including its legal and technical aspects. PTF, in collaboration with the CoST Secretariat in London and CoST Malawi is supporting a project entitled ‘Strengthening the Capacity of CSOs to Promote Transparency and Accountability in Public Infrastructure Projects in Malawi,’ financed by the  European Union.

Project Summary

In the long run, substantial improvements in transparency and  accountability in public infrastructure projects in Malawi require the active involvement of CSOs in  monitoring public procurement in infrastructure projects, at the national and district levels and budget expenditures in public procurement at the district level, as well as engaging with government, including advocating for effective policies to promote transparency and accountability and addressing corruption risks in procurement. At present, CSOs lack the resources, skills, and experience to be credible monitors of procurement of infrastructure projects and credible advocates for transparency and accountability in infrastructure procurement. Under the action, the partners, including the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC), the Integrity Platform (IP), the National Construction Industry Council (NCIC), and CoST-Malawi, will design and deliver best-practice training programs to develop the institutional capacities of CSOs to effectively monitor infrastructure project procurement, as well as budgetary expenditures on infrastructure procurement at the district level. This training will focus on the use of the Information Platform for Public Infrastructure (IPPI), a digital procurement platform. This capacity development of CSOs will also provide an opportunity for some CSOs (selected under an open competitive process) of “learning by doing,” through which CSOs will refine their skills by monitoring public procurement of a set of infrastructure projects, as well as entering into dialogue with some district governments on budgetary expenditures on infrastructure procurement. In addition, under the leadership of AICC/IP, the project will support national-level dialog between CSOs and duty bearers relating to promoting transparency and accountability in infrastructure procurement and thereby establish AICC/IP and CSOs as legitimate stakeholders in Malawi on this issue.

Intended Impact

The project focuses on improving the capacity of civil society to monitor procurement in Malawi in a wide range of publicly financed infrastructure projects (particularly in the sectors of water supply and sanitation; transportation, including roads; and building) and thereby advocate for increased transparency and accountability in their identification, preparation, and implementation.

Results of this project will include:

  • Increased political commitment by national and local governments as well as project implementing agencies to integrity in public procurement;
  • Greater enforcement of laws and regulations that promote integrity in public procurement;
  • CSOs monitor procurement in selected publicly financed projects at the national and local levels, in several construction sectors; and
  • CSOs demand accountability in those aspects of delivery relating to systems performance.

Project Objectives:

The project is designed to enhance the procurement monitoring capability of CSOs in Malawi, and will focus on achieving the following specific objectives:

  1. A sufficient number of CSOs are trained to monitor public infrastructure procurement at the project level and to analyze budget expenditures on public infrastructure procurement at the national land district levels in Malawi. This will include familiarizing trainees on using the Information Platform for Public Infrastructure (IPPI);
  2. Through cooperating with relevant duty bearers, CSOs will have demonstrated their capacities to monitor public infrastructure procurement at the project level and to analyze budget expenditures in public infrastructure procurement at the national and district levels;
  3. The IPPI is fully operationalized to enable compliance with the FDR regulations in public infrastructure procurement;
  4. Evidence-based dialogue is promoted between duty bearers and CSOs aimed at improving performance in public infrastructure procurement.

Project Activities:

The project consists of four activities:

(a) Building capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to advocate for increased transparency, accountability and integrity and monitor procurement at the national and local levels in Malawi in the water supply and sanitation (WSS), transport and building sectors;

(b) Facilitating CSO involvement in public infrastructure procurement monitoring and advocacy programs, through applying the skills they have learnt in capacity building activities;

(c) Carry out two assurance studies each on at least 25 projects that provides an independent review of the disclosed information, highlighting issues of concern that CSOs can use to hold government to account Facilitating CSO involvement in procurement monitoring and advocacy programs, through applying the skills they have learnt in the capacity building activities; and

(d) Conducting a project evaluation.

Project Team:

Donal O'Leary

Project Manager

Wayne Wittig

Adviser, PTF

Andrew Wells

Chief Legal Procurement Adviser, PTF

Joe Chingani

Managing Director, CoST Malawi

Lyford Gideon

Country Manager, CoST Malawi

Kenneth Harry Misaka

Programmes Officer, CoST

Olive Kabatwairwe

Regional Manager, CoST Africa

Jeff Kabondo

Coordinator – Governance Programs, ACIC

Henry Mlinde

Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, ACIC

About Our Partners:

CoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) is one of the leading global initiatives improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. CoST works with government, private sector and civil society to promote the disclosure, validation and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects. This helps to inform and empower citizens and enables them to hold decision-makers to account. Our experience indicates that Informed citizens and responsive public institutions help drive reforms that reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor quality infrastructure. Malawi joined CoST during the pilot stage in 2008, after the Government of Malawi expressed interest in the principles of the initiative through the Office of the Director of Public Procurement. The CoST approach is focussed on four core features: disclosure, assurance, multi-stakeholder working and social accountability. These features provide a global standard for CoST implementation in enhancing infrastructure transparency and accountability. The disclosure process ensures that information about the purpose, scope, costs and execution of infrastructure projects is open and accessible to the public, and that it is disclosed in a timely manner. Before Malawi joined CoST, infrastructure data was disclosed only at the contract award stage of the project cycle. Since joining CoST, this has developed to cover the entire project cycle.

Related Articles:

As the Malawi Infrastructure Transparency and Accountability Project continues, the President of Malawi, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has agreed to become the CoST Malawi Champion. CoST Champions play a vital role in the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST)’s work to engage with public officials in each of its target countries and integrate infrastructure transparency into public dialogue and policy.

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