By Lusekero Mhango
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), has emphasized the importance of empowering local communities with Public Expenditure Tracking (PET), saying that it is essential for fostering social accountability and citizen involvement in local development.
The call was made recently at Iponga in the area of Traditional Authority Mwakaboko during an advocacy meeting that the organization held with members of PET a focal team in the area that has been trained and tasked to spearhead the tracking of public funds and projects and empowering others in the community.
According to project coordinator, Obert Mkandawire, community empowerment on PET fosters transparency and accountability and promotes efficiency in the administration of public resources.
It should be noted that expenditure tracking gives citizens the ability to advocate for their needs with decision-makers at both local and district levels.
“For a transparent and effective local development, we want communities to be engaged by duty bearers and adopt their say throughout the implementation process of public projects. Therefore, there is need to track the money and use of such important resources to improve the quality of the lives of the rural masses.” He said.
Nonetheless, Mkandawire expressed optimism of a more cordial working relationship between the communities and their duty bearers as through the PET focal team, public officials have begun to open up to communities on how resources are being utilized in their localities.
One of the community members Packson Kanyika, observed that a lack of supervision and monitoring on developmental projects was holding Karonga back.
“Supervision and monitoring by public officials and communities on development projects leaves a lot to be desired. Thus, having a team like PET has given us citizens the ability to track how resources are being used in our communities and participate in the development process,” he said.
With financial support from Norwegian Church Aid CCJP is implementing Social Accountability in Local Governance to Reduce Inequality for an Inclusive Malawi Project in TA Wasambo and TA Mwakaboko in the district.