A Community-Based Approach to Development in Malawi

A community lead farmer presents different maize seeds to local farmers

Orant Charities Africa is a local Malawian NGO. Our approach to development is community-based. Here’s what we mean by that: 

We share goals with local leaders. 

Both Orant and local leaders want to achieve stable communities. We want reliable institutions. And dependable community services.  To achieve this, we must develop in the following areas: 

We involve local leaders in decision-making. 

When Orant starts a new project, we talk to chiefs and local leaders. With them, we assess community needs. While projects are running, we meet with group village headmen for program updates. As they participate in our programs, we participate in theirs. 

At the local level, we attend village and area development meetings. At the district level, we attend meetings as well. We report to the District Council. The District assures that our programs don’t overlap with other NGOs. It assigns zones to NGOs who provide similar services. This keeps each org focused on a specific geographic area.

We ask our community questions.

One way we assess our programs is through community input. This is integral when we’re expanding our programs. We interview our beneficiaries to find out what they think. What’s working? What’s not working? Where do they need more? Where do they need less? 

Local communities contribute resources to our programs.

We don’t just help our local community. They help us. Local leaders mobilize available resources for our projects. The community gathers quarry stones, sand, and bricks. People step in to provide labor. The Government of Malawi supplies our Health Center with medicines. They provide malaria tests, family planning supplies, and HIV retroviral treatment. District officials train our staff on country-wide approaches. They also supervise many of our projects.      

“Malawi is a collectivist society,” says our Country Director, Gabriel Kapanda. “Almost everyone wants to participate.” 

Orant is not interested in doing everything ourselves. We’re interested in our community’s independent vitality. We accomplish more when we work together. Lasting change happens at the local level.

The Orant Journal