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Irish Ambassador underscores significance of community empowerment

Written by  Anastazio Mpumulo

Hearns pose with Msenjere Radio Listening Club members

Nkhotakota, March 7: Irish Ambassador to Malawi Aine Hearns has said community empowerment is crucial in ensuring that most vulnerable households are supported and are enabled to support themselves to participate in making decisions that affect their lives.

She was speaking at Msenjere, Senior Chief Kanyenda in Nkhotakota where she interacted with Msenjere Radio Listening Club (RLC) under ‘Tilimbikitse Umoyo Wabwino Project’ being implemented by Development Communications Trust (DCT) with funding from Irish Aid through Tilitonse Fund.

In her remarks, Hearns said it is not easy for vulnerable groups like youths, women, people living with disabilities, and people living with HIV and AIDS to make own decisions if they do not know their rights.

She said she was impressed with the club activities because they were touching all basic human rights and it is in line with the objective of making sure that vulnerable groups are supported.

“I came here to see for myself what is happening on the ground with the Irish Aid. I’ve been impressed by your speeches to note that you have really been empowered and it also really shows that when women are empowered they fight for their rights.

“The club can be a model on how health service providers and community members should be interacting to improve health service delivery for the benefit of vulnerable groups,” she said.

She further said the project has imparted a sense of confidence among community members to demand quality services.

“I commend the role of DCT in bringing this awareness to rural communities such as this. I hope together with Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), you will be able to bring these experiences up so that they can influence policies at national level.

“Looking at what is happening here and in other communities around Malawi, Irish Aid is ready to continue supporting the work of civil society organizations through Tilitonse,” Hearns said.

DCT Executive Director Prince Mtelera said, in partnership with MHEN, the project seeks to improve health service delivery in public health facilities by addressing challenges of inadequate funds, health workers, non-functionality of governance structures and ignorance of human rights among the general populace.

Msenjere Senior HSA Supervisor Phillip Chimsanjo said the RLC has bridged the gap between the service providers and community members.

“We were initially insulted on no valid basis at all but currently we use the RLC to convey our messages and concerns to the community members.

“Through the RLC, we also get to know challenges which communities are encountering so that we ask responsible authorities to respond to them,” said Chimsanjo.

Representing Nkhotakota District Hospital, Bestido Nkhoma said the health sector has benefited from the project especially in bringing the gap between the health workers and the community including in conflict resolution.

“The community members now take ownership of public health facilities. The district hospital has also witnessed increment of K18million in its budget allocation after advocacy and lobbying by MHEN,” said Nkhoma.

Nkhoma however, asked DCT and MHEN officials to consider extending the project to the whole district since the project currently covers only five of 21 health facilities in Nkhotakota.

Apart from Nkhotakota, the project is also being implemented in Balaka and Salima.


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