Malaria control in Malawi: The complexities of implementing community development interventions

Welcome to this seminar with Tumaini Malenga from The African Institute for Development Policy, Malawi.

photo of tumani

Grassroots-driven development has been championed as the new form of engagement with rural communities to encourage ownership and participation in implementing development projects. However, the design of such projects still lacks power balance. Marketed as a bottom-up approach, such initiatives remain very much top-down, with little consultation during the design phase. This affects the success of implementation, as crucial context-specific factors are often missed. The history of past development initiatives in terms of the relationship of the implementors with the local community, socio-cultural relationships in a multiethnic community and how local political power influences who benefits from initiatives, and the levels of poverty and access to basic public services all matter when considering how successful a development project would be.

About the seminar

This presentation reflects on observations of a community-driven approach to malaria control in Malawi. Grounded in the experience of a randomized control trial testing malaria interventions in a rural community with poor health systems, Malenga will discuss how the contextual factors affected the quality of the results.

Implementing malaria research uniformly in a community with an unhealthy relationship with externally driven development projects affects the project’s success.

Malenga will argue for the importance of acknowledging sociocultural nuances and political history when considering development projects with poverty alleviation as the end goal. It is crucial to reflect on the importance of understanding the community experience with development interventions more broadly; the dangers of working with interventions designed with little community consultation. She will particularly highlight the experience of biomedical research and how that is impacted by belief systems that reject modern medicine and the experience of aid relief in the context of a disaster-prone area.

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Published Oct. 26, 2022 4:31 PM - Last modified Oct. 26, 2022 4:31 PM