© Hansueli Krapf - Wikimedia Commons

Over the last nine years, under the leadership of the local chapter of the Construction Sector Transparency (CoST Malawi) initiative, 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. In collaboration with the CoST Secretariat in London and the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), an NGO based in Washington DC., to address this issue, CoST Malawi has decided to develop a project entitled ‘Strengthening Civil Society Capacity in Public Procurement Monitoring’.

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.

It follows on PTF’s experience supporting the involvement of CSOs in promoting transparency and accountability in public procurement. PTF is currently managing a project entitled ‘Improving Transparency and Effectiveness of Public Procurement in Ukraine through Cooperation with Civil Society’ and has provided financial support and technical advice to five chapters of Transparency International in the implementation of Integrity Pacts for infrastructure projects, which involve commitments of non-bribery by bidders; non-extortion the procurement and non-acceptance of bribes by procurement agencies, together with CSO monitoring of processes.

As the Champion of CoST Malawi, the Vice-President of the Republic, Rt. Hon. Dr. Saulos Klaus Kilima, points out in his letter of support, the proposed project is consistent with the Government of Malawi’s commitment to the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) principles of transparency, accountability, and embracing new technologies. In particular, this project is synchronized with a number of aspects of the Government’s OGP National Action Plan for 2016 to 2018, including the fight against corruption, empowerment of citizens and citizen participation, and public-sector reforms and public service delivery.

The goal of this project is to improve transparency, accountability and integrity in public procurement throughout the project cycle at the national and local levels in Malawi.

The objectives of this project include to:

    • Strengthen capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to advocate for increased transparency, accountability and integrity in public procurement (particularly in infrastructure) at the national and local levels in Malawi;
    • Strengthen capacity (primarily of CSOs) to monitor public procurement in terms of the full project cycle (identification, preparation and implementation), at the national and local levels, in Malawi; and
    • Empower civil society organizations in Malawi, though using a portal to facilitate disclosure of information on projects monitored by the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) of Malawi.

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.