Citizen participation in local policy making in Malawi

Malamulo, Terence Crayl
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
In the last two decades, a number of discourses on democratic governance and development in the developing countries position citizen participation as a public accountability mechanism. Most countries have adopted decentralization governance reforms to enable local citizens to influence government policies and services. Literature on decentralization shows weak coherence on how public accountability works to achieve local development and democracy consolidation. Hence, the research study proposes a citizen participation model that should be used in investigating citizen based public accountability in policy making. The evaluation study intends to measure the extent to which citizen participation influences public accountability in local policy making in Malawi; using an evaluation framework based on the suggested citizen participation model. The evaluation investigated the influence of citizen participation in the making of the Lilongwe City Development Strategy (2009). It used qualitative research design and a case study of Ngwenya, a peri-urban area in Lilongwe City. The study used a clarificative evaluation approach. The study found that there is poor citizen participation to influence public accountability in local policy making in Malawi. The findings depict that the conceptualization of citizen participation model should underpin policy principles and associate laws to frame contextual base that helps decentralization benefits reach the local citizens. The report suggests that to improve public accountability through citizen participation primarily there should be: i) clear social, constitutional or political contracts between local government and citizens; ii) adherence to democratic governance; and iii) consistent alignment of programme implementation to assumed contexts in their design.
Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of a Master of Management in Public Policy at the Graduate School of Public & Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand.
Democracy, Citizen participation, Policy making, Malawi