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Malawi: How NGOs are protecting the rights of local communities impacted by proposed Lilongwe Water Project

Author: Elias Jika & Preksha Kumar, in International Accountability Project , Published on: 20 March 2018

"The Banks May be Gone but Communities Still Pay the Price for Poor Development Planning"

...The goal of the Lilongwe Water Project...is to expand access to water services in the city of Lilongwe. The project includes the construction of a dam, the Diamphwe Multipurpose Dam, to achieve its objectives...[T]the dam and its associated infrastructure is expected to impact the lives and livelihoods of thousands of families in Lilongwe and Dedza districts. After learning about the project through the Early Warning System, the International Accountability Project reached out to Citizens for Justice (CFJ) — a local organization in Malawi — to share project information with the communities who would be affected.

... IAP and CFJ conducted community-led research that identified many risks associated with the project, including a flawed consultation process and the permanent loss of homes and livelihoods. Armed with the results of the community-led research process, IAP and CFJ urged the World Bank and others not to approve the project unless a clear plan for consultation and resettlement was developed. Ultimately, the banks who were expected to finance the project — the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank (EIB) — decided to withdraw their support, providing a temporary reprieve for those affected.

The good news, however, may be short lived. In late 2017, local media reports indicated that the government of Malawi was in talks with a multinational engineering and construction company, Mota Engil, to enter into a public private partnership agreement to take over the project...There is now an urgent need for continued advocacy and engagement with decision makers, especially the government of Malawi. To support local communities in their advocacy and engagement with the Malawi government, the International Accountability Project has partnered with Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), a local human rights and advocacy organization in Malawi. CHRR is launching an advocacy campaign to address the risks to land and livelihoods and restore, if not improve, the standard of living of all those affected by the project

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