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People in planning in Malawi: Lessons from the APAC Programme in Eastern and Southern Africa

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Fiona Samuels

This Project Briefing examines the key lessons, successes and innovations of the Australian Partnerships with African Communities (APAC) programme to address emerging development challenges in Eastern and Southern Africa, using community-based approaches. Focusing on the role of people in planning (PiP) processes, it provides a short overview of the rationale for decentralisation and how this works in practice in Malawi, looking at the work of three NGOs. It describes key aspects of the PiP models used by the NGOs, how these have facilitated people’s involvement and how they can be sustained and replicated. It concludes with three overarching findings.

First, a multi-owned, transparent, responsive institutional set-up is the most effective approach to ensure that communities and individuals are involved in planning processes. Second, programme planning should go beyond pragmatism to build social and political leverage. Third, raising the voice and participation of marginalised groups in planning and development is only possible if this is an explicit part of the programming strategy. 

Fiona Samuels, Bright Sibale and Kerry Selvester