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Independent Review of Scottish Government International Development Fund Projects Focused on Malawi


3. Learning from Good Practice

3.1 The review of Malawi-focused projects generated valuable lessons and examples of good practice that are of relevance to the future development of the IDF. It became clear during the early stages of the research that the variation in the delivery of these projects, their methods of operation and target beneficiaries was so great that the best approach to thematic analyses was to draw out broader lessons, in addition to the detailed case studies required, in the form of a thematic review.

Theme 1: Partnerships

3.2 One of the key objectives of Scotland's International Development Fund is to support partnerships that capitalise on sharing ideas, understanding and knowledge. There were a number of examples across all the projects of how the establishment and continuity of partnerships has been critical to the effective investment of IDF grants. The review concluded that there were 8 key points relating to successful partnerships and case studies from the good practice identified through the projects were used to illustrate these points.

3.3 Projects that respond to local need, with local ownership of the development create a 'respond to' attitude, rather than creating a 'done to' dependency culture (Box 2 gives a case example from the Enterprising Global Citizen Consortium).

Box 2 UNICEF Enterprising Global Citizen Consortium

Partners: UNICEF, University of Strathclyde, Ethical Enterprises, Chancellor College, University of Malawi & Blantyre Synod Education Department.

The goal of this project was to adapt the Enterprising Global Citizens course used in Scottish Schools for use in schools in Malawi. The course aims to teach entrepreneurial skills and enable children to set up mini social enterprises that can produce an income. In one case, it was reported that the money raised helped a group of girls to remain in education. Over 100 teachers and 15 teacher trainers were trained to deliver the course in both schools and the University. There are 15 participating schools in both countries, which are linked.

The project arose following a visit to Scotland by Malawian education professionals in 1999. Chancellor College wanted to review their primary curriculum and teaching methods, and include enterprise education in the curriculum. A local needs assessment to assess course relevance took place in-country and an impact evaluation was carried out with teachers and schools. Malawian professionals were involved in amending and tailoring the course to fit the country context. They visited Scotland and observed the delivery of the programme in schools prior to developing a model that would be contextually relevant.

An unintended spin-off is the development of a partnership with 'Link Community Development', which runs teacher exchanges with Malawi. It has been instrumental in arranging twinning relationships between Scottish and Malawian schools.

3.4 Partnership projects should be adapted to the culture and environment in which they will be operating. It should not be taken for granted that a project developed for a specific context in one country will translate to another, as the case example of ALSO (Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics) shows in Box 3.

Box 3 ALSO: Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics

Partners: Scottish Franchise of ALSOUK; Ministry of Health, Malawi & Reproductive Health Unit, Malawi.

This is an internationally accredited programme of continuing professional development designed to develop knowledge and practical skills in clinical staff to manage life threatening obstetric emergencies. The ALSO project trained Malawian instructors who were then involved in the shaping, development and content of the programme as well as identifying additional needs for the Malawian context.

This was achieved through meetings of ALSO practitioners in Malawi and ALSO advisory faculty members from Scotland. The course has been approved for modification for the Malawian context to adjust to local needs and to highlight causes of maternal mortality in childbirth prevalent in Malawi.

ALSO Malawi instructors are being encouraged to work with advisory faculty members from Scotland to adapt the course to more accurately reflect the healthcare needs of Malawian mothers and babies during pregnancy and childbirth. This engagement of local professionals in programme design and development to ensure cultural and contextual validity further contributes to continuing professional development, aids local ownership of the programme and gives integrity to the delivery thus improving integration into existing practice.

3.5 Partnership projects should match the MDGs, the Malawi Development Priorities and the International Development Fund ( IDF). For example, the Mamie Martin Fund (Box 4) illustrates the importance of programme 'fit' with development principles and ensures maximum benefit for the participants and best value for the resources invested by both countries' partners.

Box 4 Mamie Martin Fund: Supporting the education of girls in Northern Malawi

Partners: Mamie Martin Fund, 5 Scottish Schools, the Synod of Livingstonia and 5 Malawian Schools.

The Mamie Martin Fund received financial support from the IDF to: a) Increase their hardship fund; b) Support Malawi schools' infrastructure by building housing for teachers; and c) Set up links and exchanges between 5 Scottish secondary schools and 5 schools in Malawi that the Mamie Martin Fund has been working with for the past 13 years.

Intercultural exchanges have been formed and young people from Scotland have visited Malawi, learning about the culture of the country and sharing their own culture with their Malawian peers. Return visits by Malawians to schools in Scotland are taking place.

The project contributes to establishing stronger links between the 2 countries and the development of 'mutual relationships rather than donor relationships' supports the infrastructure of the education system through a programme of building housing for teachers, a priority in the MGDS. It also supports the professional development of teachers from both countries, contributing to improved education systems in both countries.

3.6 Partnership projects that are carefully planned before their implementation gain maximum benefit. Projects that show the most successful outcomes incorporated careful planning and preparation in both countries, with participants from each country visiting their counterparts and observing how an establishment might be replicated in another context. The case example of the Making Wonders project (Box 5) was based on an initial pilot and pre-planning.

Malawi Millennium Project: Making Wonders Phase Two

Partners: University of Strathclyde; Malawi Millennium Project; Montfort College; Limbe & Malawi Ministry of Education.

The objective was to provide assistive information technology equipment to schools, colleges and further education institutions to aid the teaching of blind and visually impaired young people.

The project was built on a pilot in 2004, and a pre-project needs assessment carried out by the University of Strathclyde. This visit established the nature of the need in Malawi and in each of the institutions participating in the project, which were visited twice before project start-up. The purpose of the visits was to: 1) introduce the programme to the staff of the institutions; 2) explain the nature of the training; and 3) work with Malawian partners to assess the operational context as well as monitor the progress being made to create suitable secure buildings for the IT equipment.

The project has worked in 16 institutions (10 secondary schools, 3 primary schools and 3 tertiary education establishments), trained 5 teachers to cascade training, trained 47 institution-based specialist teachers and benefited 272 visually impaired young people.

There have been some additional, positive, unintended outcomes with links being made with Malawi Tomorrow (which repairs Perkins Braillers), Sightsavers International (which focuses on the prevention of blindness) and Force Foundation (Netherlands) who have worked with Making Wonders on other projects.
The Malawi Government, which hitherto had a policy of only using Braille, has bought 30 computers to be used in schools, whilst the University of Strathclyde has benefited from the exchange of skills between the countries and in the development of resources which can be used by their students.

Project sustainability has been built into the programme with staff from Montfort College in Malawi being trained to take over all aspects of the management of the project.

3.7 Identifying ways to cascade learning/training can assist project sustainability beyond the funding period, as short-term grant funding presents challenges for sustainability. By cascading skills, knowledge and expertise through projects and initiatives, locally gained professional knowledge and expertise is being used to continue the development role without the support of external expertise and financial support - see the example from the Friends of African Nursing project in Box 6.

Box 6 The Friends of Africa Nursing ( FOAN): Capacity in nursing training

Partners: Friends of Africa Nursing; Johnson & Johnson; and Ministry of Health, Malawi.

FOAN is committed to the long-term, continuing professional development of all healthcare workers, particularly those engaged in perioperative care. It recognises that in Africa this is difficult to achieve and the only solution is to provide capacity-building leadership programmes for actual and potential leaders of operating theatres. The FOAN programme of 2007 in Malawi aimed to train nurses within perioperative care, developing teams, individuals and potential leaders.

Judicious project management and administration enabled the team to run a 'train the trainers' course in 2007 that was attended by 17 nurses. These nurses have now acquired the skills and knowledge to pass on their expertise to others. This was an unexpected outcome resulting from the strong administration of the project's finances, which meant that some of the Scottish Government grant was unspent following the completion of all the planned activities. This was supplemented by FOAN's own funds, which enabled the course to be delivered.

3.8 Partnership projects should promote equity and equality. It is important that projects respect that practitioners in Malawi are likely to have much greater knowledge and expertise about the issues that impact on individuals and communities, particularly at a local-level, than Scotland-based practitioners. Project partners gained as much as they gave when partnerships were based on mutuality, equity and equality.

3.9 Partnerships should provide mutuality of benefits for participants. The partnership projects provide this mutuality of benefit through opportunities for cross-country exchanges of professional knowledge, expertise and skills. The use of information technology presents interesting development opportunities as in the example of the University of Edinburgh project. This project used e-learning to enable healthcare professionals in both countries to access online resources for continuing professional development and their clinical work in healthcare. E-technology projects illustrate the potential for advancement gained through its provision, but also highlight the potential for isolation where internet access is not possible as was the case for the Westgate Medical Centre (Box 7).

Box 7 Westgate Medical Centre: Twinning of Scottish & Malawi Clinics Projects

Partners: Westgate Medical Centre, Dundee; Zingwangwa Clinic, Malawi; 20 other Malawian Clinics; and 20 Scottish GPs.

This project was established to narrow the gap in access to resources between healthcare professionals in both countries. An 'online' network between clinics in Malawi and Scotland has been established and links 'virtual' colleagues from the treatment room enabling the exchange of information and ideas, and to learn from innovations in healthcare in both countries.

A 'blogging' format was chosen over the traditional website to enable an interactive forum to track the progress of the project. This format also contributed to the ongoing dialogue about the way in which technology can be used to advance social change, particularly in healthcare and to provide access to best social practice.

The project suffered some setbacks due to poor quality internet access and this restricted the capacity to meet the proposed targets.

3.10 Twinning initiatives between communities should be encouraged. The development strategies of both Scotland and Malawi recognise the value of initiatives that bring communities together and create opportunities for reciprocal learning for people in both countries. The example in Box 8 shows how twinning can be used effectively to raise community awareness about partners.

Box 8 Malawi at St Magnus, Orkney

Partners: St Magnus Festival, Orkney; & Blantyre Synods, Church of Central Africa Kungani Centre of Culture and Art

This project was part of the 2006 St. Magnus Festival, Orkney. It aimed to raise awareness and understanding in communities in Orkney about Malawi, its people and culture; to create an awareness of Malawi's needs among schools, churches and the wider community; and to launch a partnership between Orkney and Malawi which will provide practical assistance to communities, churches and schools in Malawi. A children's choir and poet from Malawi attended the festival and performed there as well as at other venues on the islands.

As a result of the visit, there is evidence that some 'partnerships' have been developed. There is a formal partnership between the Orkney Presbytery and the Thyolo Presbytery. It is likely that this will provide funds for practical support in Malawi (e.g. towards building a new school). An estimated 10-12 families, who hosted young people from the Limbe choir, have given financial support towards their educational costs and a fund for music education for orphans has been set-up with £20,000 being collected initially.

Theme 2: Advocacy and leverage

3.11 Advocacy emerged as a key theme during the review process. It was clear that a number of projects, whether they explicitly stated it in their plans or not, had brought an element of focus and attention to the problem or need they were addressing. This means that, although advocacy was not a specific requirement of the IDF, it was a positive consequence of the efforts made by projects to raise awareness amongst decision-makers and to lever in support from other parties for the identified need. This is, therefore, a valuable additional impact that the Malawi-focused projects have delivered.

3.12 As mentioned above, most projects did not explicitly plan to undertake advocacy. Only 23% of projects specifically mentioned advocacy as part of their application or the activities that they deliver(ed). Training, education and capacity building can be included in the broad definition of advocacy and these components were part of the activities in 74% of projects. Moreover, of the Malawi-focused projects funded through the Main Grants Scheme of the IDF, 23% mentioned raising awareness of a specific issue in Malawi, whereas 71% mentioned raising awareness of Malawi in Scotland.

3.13 Table 5 presents a typology of the projects with respect to advocacy. Many of the health projects fell within the first category, while the second category included the projects focused on improving the education of children with special needs. Projects in the third group looked to give a voice to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as women, orphans and vulnerable children ( OVCs). The final group included projects that were primarily humanitarian aid, core funding for projects, or organisations engaged mostly in service delivery.

Table 5 Project typology based on broad scope of project work/activities

Type of advocacy

% of projects

Exchange of skills/influencing practice/updating practice


Providing a service and seeking to influence government policies


Providing a voice for vulnerable groups/seeking to change attitudes towards that group and influencing policy


No real element of advocacy present/essentially service provision/humanitarian aid/core funding


3.14 Good practice suggests that advocacy is most effective when based not only on firm research evidence, but also on the views of the intended beneficiaries. Where the main objective of advocacy is to change or influence law or government policy, the organisations engaged in advocacy have to be considered as legitimate representatives whose rationale for promoting specific messages is well-founded. The impact of key messages can be significantly enhanced if the intended beneficiaries are part of the advocacy process and involved in making representation, as the case study in Box 9 shows. The review concluded that there were 7 key points relating to advocacy and leverage that were significant in securing project success.

Box 9 Involvement of intended beneficiaries

Oxfam Malawi and Scotland: Developing Malawi's Millennium Development Goals

This large-scale project aims to ensure improved and sustainable livelihoods for 30,000 households affected by HIV/ AIDS in Southern Malawi and to strengthen their capacity to have an influence on national decision-making. The project's activities include:

  • Actions to improve food production
  • Mobilising communities to support the care of HIV patients, orphans and vulnerable children
  • Training young people to carry out HIV prevention programmes.

A needs assessment was conducted using participatory rural appraisal techniques to establish needs and concerns and the project trained community groups in advocacy to enable them to present their demands clearly, rather than relying on the project to do so. For example, communities were successful in pressing local authorities for boreholes, feeder roads and an increase in health personnel. Communities also lobbied the Government of Malawi for an increased allocation of funding for the education of OVCs and engaged in policy discussions with the HIV/ AIDS Unit of the Ministry of Health over the integration of the informal health sector (Community Home-Based Care) into the formal health sector. This was necessary because, with the acceptance among communities of home-based care services and with more people willing to declare their HIV status, the use of formal health care services also increased.

3.15 Demonstrating effective service provision to change or implement government policy. In terms of wider aid budgets, NGOs work on a relatively small scale but they are often able to demonstrate an innovative way of tackling an issue or bringing to wider attention the needs of vulnerable groups that may be excluded or marginalised. The impacts of these projects can be enhanced by the use of effective advocacy (e.g. linking in with other organisations involved in the same issue, using the project's success to demonstrate the potential for positive change and to help to change attitudes). The case of the Making Wonders project and the projects it is associated with (Box 5) illustrates many of these traits.

3.16 Networking/collaboration to increase effectiveness and create a coalition for advocacy. Networking and collaboration between projects can significantly improve advocacy. Small organisations may increase their impact by association with larger players while there are advantages for busy decision-makers in listening to one collective voice rather than several organisations. The case studies of the Oxfam (Box 9) and the Interact Worldwide (Box 10) projects reflect the positive impact of collective working. Tearfund's Malawi Street Children's project (Box 13) also shows how organisations can come together around specific policy targets, which in this example involved advocating for child protection polices and, working with other children's organisations, pressing the Malawi Government to include child rights within the poverty reduction strategy.

Box 10 Building capacity in the governance process

Interact Worldwide: Community Support for Women, Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Malawi

This project aimed to strengthen the response to HIV/ AIDS by building capacity in civil society. Like the Oxfam project noted (Box 9), it took a rights-based approach and worked with the national umbrella body for NGOs working on HIV/ AIDS. This collective approach helped to ensure a strong and united voice. The project conducted a baseline survey and used community-based monitoring tools to gather information about the needs of women and vulnerable children to ensure that their voices were heard in advocating for improved services on sexual and reproductive health. The project trained members to focus on the rights of women and children affected to receive equal treatment and non-discrimination in respect of access to services. Members of the boards of governors of the NGOs were included in the training. This helped to increase the legitimacy of the organisations involved in lobbying the National Aids Commission to intervene at the local-level where money is disbursed to community-based organisations. A website and newsletter were developed to support advocacy.

3.17 Targeting the right decision-makers and defining entry points. The Active Learning Centre's Building Bridges Project (Box 11) shows how the project enabled NGOs working on gender issues to make entry points to the parliamentary system. Deaf Action's project (Box 12), which provided training in sign language to interpreters, gained access to high-level decision makers in the universities and education accreditation teams, whilst also lobbying government officials to secure the future employment of their trained interpreters and a level of sustainability for the project.

Box 11 Targeting the right decision-makers and defining entry points

Active Learning Centre: Building Bridges

This project focused on bringing together women Parliamentarians and NGOs working on gender issues to consult with women in the constituencies of the Members of Parliament on a number of gender issues to inform and strengthen the Women's Parliamentary Caucus agenda.

It was the first time that women Parliamentarians and NGO members had worked together and both benefited from the experience. Parliamentarians suggested that they had gained from the NGO expertise on gender issues, whilst the NGOs highlighted the value of gaining an entry point into the parliamentary process.

The project made use of a newsletter to spread information about the project and reinforce advocacy messages. The Women's Caucus agenda, which sets out clear targets for legislative and policy reform on gender issues, was strengthened by the evidence gained from the consultations in the community and the commitment to Parliamentary and NGO collaboration.

3.18 Effective use of the media and publicity. Newsletters and websites are commonly used as project publicity tools and these combined with effective media strategies are essential components in advocacy. The case study of the Deaf Action Project (Box 12) illustrates the impact of effective media coverage, the importance of enabling the beneficiaries themselves to be part of the advocacy process and the effect of targeting the right decision-makers.

Box 12 Effective use of the media and publicity

Deaf Action: Sign Language Interpreter Training in Malawi and Swaziland

This project focuses on training sign language interpreters for the deaf in both countries where Deaf Action works in collaboration with the 2 main organisations representing deaf people.

In the early stages of the project, Deaf Action made links with the key institutions responsible for the accreditation of interpreters in order to ensure that those trained as trainers could achieve the required status. This was coupled with identifying the Government departments which could be potential employers of the interpreters and advocates for their employment at the end of the project.

The project gained considerable media publicity and for the first time deaf people were able to present their own case and talk about their problems in obtaining information and their exclusion from mainstream society. The Scotland-based trainers also made use of high-level meetings to lobby for the organisations. For instance, it was through one such meeting that the association representing deaf people in Malawi was enabled to bid for a grant to secure an office and headquarters for the organisation.

3.19 Raising awareness of the situation of a specific group/issue. In projects, development efforts often focus on vulnerable or marginalised groups which may be neglected by mainstream policy or service delivery. In such interventions the role of advocacy can be to highlight the reasons for marginalisation, to bring to public attention the needs of such groups or to attempt to change attitudes towards their treatment. However, advocacy is most effective where the obligation to be inclusive and to address the demands of the vulnerable is well-argued and has some legal foundation. A rights-based approach to development sets the achievement of human rights as an objective of development. As the Interact Worldwide and Oxfam projects highlighted earlier, projects can focus on the rights of women and children affected by HIV/ AIDS to non-discrimination and equal treatment. The case example below of the Malawi Street Children's project (Box 13) illustrates the use of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in carrying out rights-based advocacy at a variety of levels - community, local and national government - in order to raise awareness of the marginalisation and problems of street children and to argue for their inclusion in society.

Box 13 Rights-based advocacy for street children

Tearfund: Malawi Street Children

The main objective of this project is to protect street children and child-headed households from abuse, violence and HIV infection and to re-integrate those forced on to the street with families and support their re-entry to school.

The project uses training around children's rights and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child to raise awareness of the problems of street children and their rights to family life, health and education.

Training programmes have been carried out to galvanise church communities to support these children and with groups like the police and security guards who will have contact with children living on the streets. The rights-based approach also influences the services provided for street children: their right to participate in decisions that affect them has been respected and they have participated in the design and organisation of the children's centres that provide drop-in services. Advocacy has also taken place at a local-level, to persuade district assemblies and schools to re-enrol children who have dropped out and, as was mentioned earlier, in collaboration with other childcare organisations, to advocate for the inclusion of children's rights in the MGDS.

3.20 Gender and advocacy. A number of projects funded by the first and second rounds of the International Development Fund highlight good practice in addressing gender issues. Scottish Churches World Exchange Likhubula House project demonstrated the use of an equal opportunities selection procedure for employment that appointed 2 female project managers. Ongoing support for these 2 workers has enabled them to demonstrate their competence and ability to fulfil the terms of their job descriptions. In Deaf Action's project for Training Sign Language Interpreters (Box 12) the memorandum of understanding agreed between the partners required a gender balance in participants selected for training in order to counteract the assumption that all those trained would be males. This was particularly important given that the project aimed to address the needs of both deaf women and men.

3.21 The projects run by Oxfam (Box 9) and Interact Worldwide (Box 10) aimed to target women, who are known to be more vulnerable to HIV/ AIDS, in their design and implementation. Oxfam reported that their awareness raising of gender issues in their community care programme for those suffering from or caring for people living with HIV and AIDS, resulted in men coming forward to undertake traditionally female tasks such as caring. The Oxfam project also worked with the Malawi Government's Gender Coordination Unit to support the passage through Parliament of the law on domestic violence and, by use of the media, to raise awareness of the new act in communities.

3.22 Despite the relatively small size of the projects, some have been very successful in leveraging support from other organisations. Projects funded by the IDF have successfully levered in additional support with some projects receiving significant amounts of support that have strengthened their ability to operate outside IDF funding as illustrated in the example cases in Box 14.

Box 14 Leveraging support for enhancing project impacts

The University of Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Respiratory Child Health Project

Through the facilitation of a service level agreement between the Ministry of Health and the Christian Health Association of Malawi ( CHAM), the project team were successful in removing user fees charged by CHAM. This dropping of user fees will potentially have the long-term impact of increased access and uptake of care for children under 5 years.

Scottish International Relief: Mary's Meals

This project has been very successful at securing financial support from both within and outside Malawi. Currently this project receives only 8% of its funding from the International Development Fund and the majority of its financial support is provided from Malawian sources. Mary's Meals is experienced in attracting support and with its charitable status is attractive for investment by its supporters.

University of Strathclyde - Malawi Millennium Project Making Wonders

This project successfully attracted support in the form of donations of software for the talking computers from Microsoft, JAWS and Daisy, whilst approximately £105,000 of support came from other donors.

3.23 The elevation of Malawi in the Scottish media as a result of the IDF can only have served to aid projects in generating such support. The development of a stronger network among IDF projects may be useful in attracting support such as that described above. The potential value of sharing experiences of success in bringing in high-levels of support within Malawi could also be considered. The sharing environment created by regular meetings of IDF projects could help projects less experienced in leverage to learn from other grantees in both the Malawi and Scotland contexts.

Theme 3: Project approach/modality

In reviewing the Malawi projects from the first 2 IDF rounds, several types of effective project approach were identified. The review concluded that there was a high degree of good practice amongst the projects and that different situations suit different project approaches. The different approaches identified are:

  • Replication
  • Information/cultural exchange
  • Capacity building
  • Networks
  • Added benefit
  • Bigger picture.

3.25 Replication: The utilisation of tried and tested methods from other locales or countries is a method that 18% of the IDF projects used. This is often suitable when local conditions are not a key variable in determining project impact, or when projects are replicated in areas of similar local (e.g. social, political, environmental, economic) conditions. A successful example of this type of approach was demonstrated by Mary's Meals (Scottish International Relief) where an established feeding programme was replicated to target further communities. The project has had a major impact in terms of feeding children: for many children who receive Mary's Meals, the daily meal may constitute up to 70% of their daily food intake providing for 100% of requirements for protein, iron and vitamin A. The real success of this project is undoubtedly due to the strong community voluntary networks established to run the feeding stations. The Malawi Government has now committed to extend the concept nationally.

3.26 Information/cultural exchange: A key principle of the 2005 International Development Policy was to engage people living in Scotland in international development issues, and promote an outward looking focus. Of the 39 projects reviewed in this research, 30% could be said to have a true 2-way exchange of knowledge, experience or culture. These were projects for which both Scotland-based and Malawian partners participated in the original design and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. An important feature in these projects was the need to understand in detail the information management and technology capacity of beneficiaries. A common problem encountered by projects in these 2-way exchanges was the lack of access to internet and e-mail by Malawian partners. Some projects accounted for this through the appointment of Malawian project coordinators who could act as a focal point in-country (e.g. Malawi Tomorrow) or through the adoption of other technology such as the smart phones used by Making Wonders (Malawi Millennium Project - Making Wonders). These phones use the mobile phone network, which is relatively extensive in Malawi, to access the internet and e-mails.

3.27 Capacity building: All except one 4 of the 39 projects reviewed included some element of capacity building. In terms of capacity building, 4 distinct areas were identified:

  • Training (Box 15)
  • Continuing Professional Development (Box 16)
  • Networks and collaborations (Box 17)
  • Technology transfer.
Box 15 Training through the collaboration of Scottish expertise and Malawian knowledge

Partners: Moffat Centre for Travel and Malawi Institute of Tourism - Infrastructure and Staff Development Programme.

This project aims to provide a credible training centre for the tourism industry by refurbishing buildings, upgrading educational resources, providing education to Master's level for the core teaching staff and detailed revision of the structure and content of the courses offered. There will also be initial support for the delivery of the new syllabus and the aim is to leave a self-financing facility. There is considerable employment potential from the sector.

To date, the MSc Programme in International Tourism Development and Management has been validated in Glasgow and initial work has started in developing distance learning materials for this programme. Glasgow Caledonian University will provide quality assurance. Course content has been discussed with both Government representatives and the tourism industry in Malawi.

This project has the potential to specifically address the themes of education and training and economic growth and development in a sector of considerable potential to Malawi. The project design is succinct and appropriate and has shown good knowledge of the tourism sector in Malawi and of how to intervene to strengthen educational capacity.

This project has the potential to specifically address the themes of education and training and economic growth and development in a sector of considerable potential to Malawi. The project design is succinct and appropriate and has shown good knowledge of the tourism sector in Malawi and of how to intervene to strengthen educational capacity.

Box 16 University of the West of Scotland ( UWS) CPD (Continuing Professional Development) support for newly qualified health practitioners

The goal of the project is the integration of newly qualified medical practitioners into the workforce through a structured programme that provides both educational support through theoretical outcomes and practice support through clinical supervision. It was envisaged that it would be newly qualified medical practitioners who would participate and therefore benefit from this project but a number of experienced practitioners also participated. This provided a useful benefit as the more experienced practitioners benefited from the support and supervision as well as being able to support less experienced colleagues.

The main tangible result of the project is that a cadre of healthcare practitioners are receiving support and supervision, post qualification and beyond, that will assist them to deal with the many challenges and stresses of their jobs and thereby aid the retention of healthcare workers in the Malawi health system.

The technical approach applied is entirely appropriate as UWS has strong knowledge and experience of designing similar post-registration modules in the Scottish context and have worked to transfer this knowledge/experience to Malawian colleagues. The project was monitored by UWS and Malawian colleagues against the project plan, with any discrepancies addressed to ensure that the stated objectives were achieved.

The University of Edinburgh e-learning project (Box 1) has also had a major impact on CPD by making it possible for practitioners to update their expertise without having to incur the costs of travel.

Box 17 Networks and collaboration Equal Exchange: Fairtrade Macadamia Market Access

Macadamia is a high value product with established but competitive markets and Malawi has substantial areas of land on which it could be grown as an intercrop or in dedicated plantations. There is a long history of its cultivation but mainly by the larger estates rather than the smallholder sector.

Two of the objectives related to building the capacity of an existing network consisting of a farmer group, and a smallholder macadamia nut association. Although the project is focused on macadamia, the wider farmer support is critical to the successful development of sustainable smallholder production and trading systems. The higher value Fairtrade, and ultimately the potential of the organic market, offer better returns but are highly discriminating on nut quality.

The project has assisted strengthening the capacity of the partners in the Neno area and, through this, is also delivering benefits to the farmers themselves, who are the ultimate beneficiaries. They are actively engaged in the planning and development work through the local farmer based organisation.

3.28 Around 8% of projects included some element of technology transfer. Those projects that have had the greatest impact and ease of implementation are those that involved Malawian technicians early in the process to avoid difficulties in sourcing materials and to develop a context-appropriate application of their particular technology to the problem.

3.29 Added benefit approach is used to describe projects that have identified a gap in service delivery either by other development projects or government delivered initiatives within the target country. The project delivered by LINK Community Development is a good example of the impact that an added-benefit project can have if the 'gap' is successfully identified and targeted. Overall, this project is bringing real and recognised benefits to its target populations. A particular example of this is that through community participation the issue of HIV awareness has been given greater coverage. This has apparently led to a reduction in HIV stigma, which has resulted in more community members going for voluntary counselling and testing.

3.30 The IDF also supported a number of so-called 'bigger picture' projects where the IDF grant contributed to a pooled fund. This means that identifying specific outcomes from IDF funding is difficult and to some extent meaningless. An example of such a project is the Oxfam project (Box 9) where IDF funding is part of a larger £2 million programme. While the programme has been successful, the IDF grant amounted to only 10% of the programme and as such cannot be compared on a one-to-one basis with other projects working with IDF grant funds. Such 'bigger picture' projects are notable due to the much larger sphere of influence they are capable of attaining - they are essentially administered by larger organisations with substantial infrastructure, without which such a programme would be impossible. The Oxfam example is demonstrably more complex than others with funding from the IDF due to this 'pooling' of resources.

3.31 Projects funded under the Scottish Government's International Development Fund were required to demonstrate that they had 'an effective exit strategy'. Projects were eligible if they produced work that 'effectively meets locally identified needs and demonstrates positive outcomes that will be sustainable beyond the life of the funding'. In relation to this, 3 types of project modality could be identified from the Malawi projects funded through the 2 main rounds:

  • Discrete - the project is completed at the end (20 projects)
  • Stepwise - the project reaches a stable end point but can be developed further at a future date (11 Projects)
  • Continual - without funding most if not all of the gains may be lost (7 projects).

3.32 The projects categorised as 'continual' are primarily humanitarian, as opposed to developmental in nature. Whilst sometimes necessary in countries such as Malawi, there should be a move towards longer-term sustainability (discrete or stepwise projects) over time.

Theme 4: Project design

3.33 There was wide variation among the applicants for IDF funding in their level of familiarity with grant application procedures. Taking the standard project cycle as a base, a number of examples of model and innovative practice were identified in the project portfolio reviewed. The main elements of the project cycle were considered (identification, design, implementation and monitoring) and areas of good practice emerged from the more successful projects in relation to the project cycle.

3.34 Projects that were able to fully identify the problem to be tackled at proposal stage were more successful as their approach was focused on the root of a particular issue and not at a symptom. The use of stakeholder consultations and a thorough needs analysis are important elements of a successful project design as the Child Support Project (Box 18) illustrates.

3.35 Projects that involved project partners throughout the project cycle were seen to meet with fewer challenges and problems. Projects that held inception workshops with partners, once funding had been announced, were able to develop fully comprehensive and viable work plans. Participatory management is a tool that can encourage greater mutuality of project delivery and ultimately can result in greater ownership of the project outcomes as was evidenced by the Active Learning Centre (Box 19).

Box 18 Needs assessment and qualitative reporting

Child Support Project - Home Based Care for People Affected by HIV/ AIDS

The needs identified in this project were a result of in-depth research by the project leader, which looked at the constraints placed on girls entering and completing education. The major constraint in Malawi identified was the impact of HIV on the ability of girls to access and complete their education due to the effects of caring duties for family members living with HIV and AIDS. Thus the objectives of this project were specific to target the problem.

As a result of the early identification of the problems to be addressed this project is bringing about real and felt benefit to the targeted populations in the project area, evidenced by initiatives such as the micro credit schemes by which women (and vulnerable individuals) can meet their daily responsibilities without the reliance on men as sole providers.

As part of the standard reporting to the Scottish Government on where the project had achieved positive outcomes, the team also included case studies. These were useful in communicating the type of needs that are being addressed and the reality of the life circumstances of the project beneficiaries. These case studies were specific to each of the problems identified within the inception phase of the project. They were comprehensive and included images of the project's work as a storyline of the team's success. These case studies also included direct quotes from beneficiaries of the project's activities and were seen to be useful in animating the project's work and could be a beneficial activity for other projects to engage in.

Box 19 Stakeholder consultation

Active Learning Centre - Building Bridges

The British Council had a relationship with women MPs and NGOs representing gender issues in Malawi. The British Council approached the Active Learning Centre because of the latter's involvement in a similar project in Ethiopia. As part of the project's design and implementation phases, stakeholder consultations were conducted with several of the target women MPs. This stakeholder consultation allowed the MPs to input into the type of training needs which they required as well as to indicate the sort of problems being faced by their female constituents. The training was specifically targeted to enhance these skills so that consultations could start to identify the many problems that women face, as well as opening-up the debate on other areas of women's concerns. Feedback was sought after the training to review its effectiveness and highlighted the extent to which knowledge was transferred to all sides.

Box 19 Risk management

University of Edinburgh - Scottish Executive Acute Respiratory Child Health ( SEARCH) Project

The project is based on existing relationships and a proven method, although the team still engaged in stakeholder consultations during the inception stage. At this stage it was identified that the service level agreement ( SLA) held between 2 of the partners, the Ministry of Health and the Christian Health Association Malawi ( CHAM), had issues which were challenging to the success of the project. CHAM has a policy of charging user fees and required the SLA to be signed and in place prior to dropping user fees. The project dealt with this risk by encouraging the Ministry of Health and CHAM to get together to discuss the challenges regarding the SLA and to find a way forward for the benefit of users. This identification and change of the project design allowed for the mitigation of risks to its success.

3.36 Projects that constructed a suitable monitoring and evaluation plan at the outset of the project are better able to monitor progress and adapt the project to the changing policy and logistical environment. Revisions of a project in response to changes in the operating environment are essential if a project is to remain relevant. Risks - those factors that are beyond the control and managerial responsibility of implementers but which are crucial to achievement at each level - are best identified early, managed and monitored as part of the monitoring and evaluation plan. The Edinburgh University SEARCH Project illustrated the benefits of this risk management (Box 20).

3.37 Frequency of monitoring activities and levels of involvement of all partners are very much dependent on the design of the project and the ease with which communications are held between partners. Malawi offers many challenges to Scottish organisations engaged in development projects but many have worked hard to handle, for example, the lack of access to e-mail, electricity and telephones, geographic isolation and high staff workloads. Box 22 provide case examples showing how organisations have incorporated monitoring activities into their project design.

3.38 Projects which submitted indicators and measures as part of their reporting process to highlight project progress enabled the review team to gain a greater insight into the project's progress in addition to the quality of the work completed. Indicators used by IDF projects can be used by project staff to track progress at a project level, as well as being used to measure progress at programme level. Overall, IDF projects are currently collecting excellent quantitative evidence but relatively little qualitative evidence. Guidance on the different kinds of evidence and methods could be provided to projects through the IDF.

Box 21 SMART indicators

Bell College (University of the West of Scotland) - Transferring Technological Expertise to Primary Healthcare in Rural Malawi.

The goal of this project is the 'development of sustainable healthcare programmes and facilities for rural Malawi through capacity building linked with technology transfer and partnership with the University of Malawi'. The project team developed 5 objectives which determined how the goal was to be achieved. Using these objectives, the team then crafted both quantitative and qualitative indicators, which are now used to monitor project progress. Project reporting shows that it is delivering its aims and is confident that the goal of the project will be achieved.

Box 22 Monitoring and feedback

The University of Strathclyde - Reducing Maternal and Infant Mortality

The purpose of the project is to achieve measurable reductions in major causes of disease and death in a cluster of villages within the Chikwawa District of Malawi alongside improving the hospital environment for the benefit of both staff and patients. The project is managed on a day-to-day basis by the project manager with a small, dedicated team of staff, notably the Health Services Authority. As the project manager and the Health Services Authority have worked together in these communities for a number of years, this ensures strong team working and good local knowledge. This is a real benefit to the implementation of this project.

There are strong and long-term working relationships between the University of Strathclyde and the Chikwawa District Health Officer ( DHO) and the Malawian Ministry of Health (MoH). This ensures effective working relationships and a robust understanding of the local context and needs. These relationships have meant that the project was planned, designed and started-up in close collaboration between the project manager and the DHO. Ongoing feedback is provided to the project via a steering group that consists of MoH, MoH Reproductive Health Unit, DHO and District Commissioner. In addition, the project runs quarterly focus group discussions with community members to gain feedback from beneficiaries for monitoring purposes, which demonstrates both good practice and a commitment to work in partnership at different and appropriate levels.