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It is south African social rights Activist Desmond Tutu who is credited for the quote “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”, in the communities where SOS Children’s Villages Malawi works, corruption and fraud is one of the vice perpetuating poverty and inequalities.

This is why SOS Children’s Villages Malawi, through the Lilongwe Family Strengthening programme trained four Village Development Committees (VDCs) on corruption and fraud to build their capacity on detecting and reporting fraud in the course of their work and to deliver on their mandate of selecting deserving beneficiaries for social protection schemes in a corrupt free manner.

The VDC is a representative body from a group of villages mandated with the responsibility of facilitating and planning development at grassroots level in the decentralization framework that Malawi adopted in October 1998. The combined effects of floods and droughts that Malawi experienced in the 2015 /2016 growing season, resulted in very a big maize production fall, a situation which rendered a good number of our family strengthening programme communities and beyond food insecure.

This dire situation, increased the need for social protection schemes to help avert the hunger situation. The social protection schemes which aims at contributing to national efforts of reducing poverty and hunger among ultra-poor, increasing school enrolment and attendance of children and improving health, nutrition, protection and well-being of vulnerable children in in ultra-poor families are a very important in enhancing the resilience of the ultra-poor in the communities, however, social protection schemes can only improve people’s lives if they are responding to the needs of the most vulnerable in a corrupt free, fair and transparent manner.

This has been lacking from a number of schemes due to the influence that the few powerful have on the VDC and lack of capacity to detect and respond in situations of corruption and fraud. SOS Children’s Villages Malawi’s interest in the issues of corruption and fraud mainly emanates from the urgent need to break the social barriers which hinders the vulnerable groups of people like orphaned and vulnerable children, female headed household’s child headed households, the chronically ill and those with disabilities from benefiting from social protection schemes.

Such a vice perpetuates poverty and further suffering and even increases the vulnerability of children contrary to the aims of the most social protection schemes in Malawi which are basically designed to alleviate poverty and improve well-being of vulnerable children. Speaking at the opening of the training, Mr. Lymon Thundu the Family strengthening coordinator for the Lilongwe Programme, said as an organisation working with families to enable them be self-sustaining so they can provide quality care to their children, we feel obliged to start breaking this anomaly which is making the vulnerable families even more vulnerable instead of supporting them to improve their status quo. At the end of the day, our desire is to see every child enjoying their full rights and reaching their full potential and becoming contributing members of their society.

The training covered broad areas such as the concept of corruption in general, the impact of corruption to development, strategies to detect and report corruption and corruption handling management. It was a very participatory training with the participants sharing real life examples of the status of corruption and development work in their communities. “We are very grateful for this training. As leaders sometimes we just fall in the practice of corruption without realizing the harm it has on the lives of children. Time has come for us to be change agents and improve the lives of the voiceless in our communities” said Group Village Headman Mtsinje, a representative of the training participants.