New APPP Policy Brief: Support to local problem-solving - Lessons from peri-urban Malawi
29 February 2012
Malawi currently faces severe economic and political constraints, placing additional pressure on town and city governments which, even in normal times, are incapable of providing public goods such as health and public security well or consistently. To obtain them at all, people rely on a variety of non-state actors, including ‘town chiefs’ (informal leaders), NGOs, churches and political parties as well as, to some extent, themselves. This policy brief from the UK-based Africa Power and Politics Programme, published in February 2012, explores the major bottlenecks that undermine the provision of public goods to people living in Malawi’s townships.
An emerging conclusion from research by the Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP) in several African countries is that such bottlenecks are seldom addressed effectively by adopting international ‘best practice’ institutions that are not properly adapted to the local context. Solutions need to be realistic about material and social constraints and build on local arrangements that are known to work. Local problem-solving capacities should be enabled, not suppressed.
This brief summarises the support for this thesis provided by research in Malawi. It reviews the major institutional causes of bottlenecks in the provision of public goods and considers how they might be addressed. It draws on field research carried out by the Local Governance team of APPP.Search Terms institutional development public policy