Zomba District Council harnessing the power of the youth in public sector innovation
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December 15, 2022
As defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005), Innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (goods or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.
Across the world, innovation is changing the way we work as a vehicle for transformational change. Countless sectors are embracing ‘innovation’ in how they implement their projects to ensure greater results and impact, with new ways of thinking in solving development challenges.
To strengthen innovation within public sector reforms in Malawi, The Government of Malawi in partnership with UNDP set up the Public Sector Innovation Challenge, as an opportunity for improved public service delivery in Local Councils.
The challenge allows Local Councils to identify challenges and opportunities in their respective districts to help deliver services more effectively and efficiently by using innovative approaches.
The first round of the challenge in 2022 has seen four councils; Dowa District Council, Mwanza District Council, Zomba District Council, and Chiradzulu District Council, winning USD 25,000 each to test innovative solutions for improving service delivery that can be replicated by other councils.
and the team set out to address this using an innovative waste disposal system at one of the main markets that is expected to benefit 6500 people within the market catchment area. Once the innovative idea is tested and validated, UNDP will partner with the Government to scale up to other districts.
The winning designed waste management facility will include a Slaughterhouse, Sorting Unit and Biogas Digester that will turn animal waste into raw products for organic manure and the production of biogas energy.
In recognizing the key role of the youth, the project team in Zomba has strategically placed young people working within the council to lead in the implementation of the project to showcase that, when given responsibilities and the opportunity to lead, young people are a dynamic and forward-looking group, best positioned to finding innovative solutions.
Mike Chapuma is a recent graduate from the University of Malawi and is playing a key role in the implementation of the Waste Management Initiative for Zomba District Council. He describes his experience as a significant learning opportunity for his professional experience.
“My long-term goal is to grow within the public sector as a Civil Servant. This experience has helped me to gain skills for my career growth. I have learnt how to draft a proposal, how to develop grant charts and how to research for information on Malawi vision 2063. We have also had meetings with different players which has taught me how to engage with organizations like UNDP”, said Chapuma.
Having recently graduated from the Catholic University with a degree in Development Studies, Maggie Msadala is also under the District Council’s internship programme and helped develop the winning project for Zomba. She believes innovation is key for Malawi’s positive transformation.
“I believe innovation is important as it helps bring out new ideas that can change society. Being part of the waste management project has shown me that if we work together and think positively, Malawi can change. We need to change our negative mindset that Malawi will never transform”, said Msadala.
Although Government has placed youth development amongst its key priorities with the support of development partners in ensuring their full participation, there is still the need for their increased participation at all levels as current contributors to the development of Malawi, to help foster a thriving innovation ecosystem.
To promote the youth as champions of the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP Malawi is working with Government and other institutions to promote the youth in political participation, economic empowerment, and resilience building.
As The Resident Representative for UNDP Malawi, Mr. Shigeki Komatsubara explains; “Young people have the incredible power to transform and solve problems when you empower them and provide them with the necessary tools. As a country, we therefore need to do more to capitalize on their potential.”
To strengthen innovation within public sector reforms in Malawi, The Government of Malawi in partnership with UNDP set up the Public Sector Innovation Challenge, as an opportunity for improved public service delivery in Local Councils. In recognizing the key role that young people play in development, the District Councils are placing young people working within the council in the forefront, as a dynamic and forward-looking group, best positioned to finding innovative solutions.
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