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United Purpose Malawi to launch ambitious five-year country strategy

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On Wednesday 16th June, 2021, United Purpose (UP) Malawi will launch its new five-year country strategy setting more ambitious and progressive goals to contribute towards a self-reliant Malawi.

UP Malawi’s Country Director Kate Hartley-Louis will lead the launching ceremony with support from keynote speakers. The event is scheduled to take place online.

According to Hartley-Louis, the new strategy provides a framework for United Purpose to support the Government of Malawi in progressing the country to inclusive wealth creation and self-reliance in line with the Malawi Vision 2063.

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“This strategy represents a refinement of our organisational direction and it is UP’s way of responding to a complex and changing world,” says Hartley-Louis.

The development of the strategy was an extensive and inclusive process. Over the course of 12 months, UP consulted key stakeholders including women, men, girls and boys as key development partners and participants.

“This strategy is the product of a comprehensive consultation process with all key stakeholders, which included a genuine effort to critically assess how well UP delivered against the previous strategy. The outcome strongly reflects the organisation’s culture, passion and vision over the next five years from 2021 to 2025. It also demonstrates the achievements of our interventions over the past 33 years we have been working in Malawi and aligns with the Malawi government vision 2063.” says Masauko Mthunzi, a member of UP’s Malawi Advisory Committee.

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UP began working in Malawi in 1988 as Concern Universal, initially supporting refugees from the Mozambican civil war and host communities in Dedza district. Since then, UP has expanded and diversified their interventions across Malawi.

District Commissioner for Dedza, Emmanuel Bulukutu, believes that eliminating poverty and ending the recurrent cycle of poverty can only be achieved through coordinated and strong partnerships. And this has always been UP’s approach.

“UP has always worked with us and other partners in a collaborative way and as a result we were able to broaden our impact and achieve a lot. We are grateful to have UP as a partner and we are happy to see that partnership is a central component of their new strategy,” says Bulukutu.

UP’s mission is to move people beyond aid; to see all people in Malawi determining their own lives supported by strong and accountable government services, states UP Chief Executive Officer Linda Edwards.

“We believe that a person’s ability to feed themselves, stay healthy or earn income, should never be dependent on charity, but should be within their control. We want to see all people in Malawi determining their own lives, supported by strong and accountable government services, and effective local markets and value chains,” says Edwards.

Voice Mhone, CEO of the Malawi NGO Board, recognises the importance of this mission.

“UP’s mission to move beyond aid is an example to other NGOs on moving towards a self-reliant nation and we are excited to partner on it,” says Mhone.

Malawi’s Country Director Hartley-Louis echoes these sentiments through underscoring UP’s commitment to a systems strengthening approach, saying that this is integral for government, the private sector and other partners to work together to deliver sustainable services.

“As we know, systems change is a long term process and we will continue to deliver on the ground with the government and civil society whilst we strengthen the systems on which people depend, to enable us to fulfil our mission to move beyond aid,” she says.

Systems strengthening will ultimately broaden and deepen the scale of UP’s impact beyond target communities and build foundations for sustainable change at a national level.

UP will continue to focus on their impact areas – Resilient Livelihoods; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Healthier lives; Sustainable Energy; Gender Equality; and Emergency Response as these are where UP has proven to make the greatest contribution.

Key stakeholders and partners in the development sector have commended UP’s new strategy. Executive Director for Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (CONGOMA) Ronald Mtonga acknowledges the strategy’s strong alignment to Malawi Vision 2063.

“The strategy reflects the fundamentals of people’s lives and the importance of partnership in achieving a common goal. We look forward to continue working with UP as a partner,” Mtonga says.

H.E. the Ambassador of Ireland to Malawi, Seamus O’Grady congratulates UP on its new strategy and acknowledges the long-time relationship between the Embassy and UP in supporting some of Malawi’s most vulnerable women and children with basic services in good times, and during times of great need.

“Here at the Embassy, we have been fortunate to work closely with UP for several years. Drawing on the advice and experience of their well-regarded national staff, UP has made a consistent effort to get behind the priorities of the District in the areas where they work. Working this way, the organisation has been instrumental in supporting catalytic changes in terms of better food, income and energy security for some of the country’s poorest families. I am particularly proud of the work we have done together with UP, and the Government of Malawi, in developing and promoting the Chitetezo Mbaula. With production now in excess of 2 million units, these humble stoves have had a profound impact on the lives of millions of people in Malawi, especially rural women, and by using them we are together helping protect Malawi’s precious natural resource base.”

The Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Malawi, Ivo Hoefkens, underscores the importance of strengthening the environment for growth and investment in order for Malawi to achieve its vision of an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation.

“It is encouraging to see UP’s commitment to strengthening alliances with the private sector and government as well as building social accountability to support stronger governance across all five of UP’s impact areas. These are all crucial enablers in strengthening the environment for inclusive growth and investment,” Hoefkens shares.

In implementing the strategy, UP will continue to design programmes that support marginalised people, ensuring that no one is left behind and that people can assert their rights to services, and then meeting this in a responsive and accountable way.

However, the commitment to leaving no one behind is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. As such, UP’s work will be tailored for particular stakeholders with continued focus in Central and Southern regions of Malawi as areas of high poverty and vulnerability.

The new strategy succeeds the Malawi Country Strategy of 2017 – 2020.

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