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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Social Funds and Local Government: The Case of Malawi
Author:Schroeder, Larry
Periodical:Public Administration and Development
Geographic term:Malawi
Subjects:community development
local government
Politics and Government
Development and Technology
Economics and Trade
Abstract:Poverty is one of the most severe problems facing many sub-Saharan African nations. One policy initiative intended to help combat this problem is the creation of 'social funds', meant to disburse financial resources to targeted populations, generally the poor, and in a rapid manner by avoiding the centralized and bureaucratic spending mechanisms of central governments. Another objective of these funds is to use allocation mechanisms that rely heavily on the initiatives of local groups to propose sub-projects to be funded through social funds. The instruments of social funds and decentralization are currently used in Malawi. This paper discusses how each instrument has certain potential theoretical advantages over the other. It then describes the flow of resources to Malawian communities under the two largest social action programmes - the Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf) and the Micro-Projects Programme (MPP) -, neither of which currently relies on substantial inputs from local governments. The data reveal a wide disparity in the per capita amounts allocated to this demand-driven initiatives across districts but also shows the diverse set of local public services supported by the funds. The paper closes with a discussion of how these two initiatives might be merged within the context of the new Local Government Act 1998, under which local services are to be devolved in the near future. Bibliogr., notes, sum.