This week has been a very eventful one in the capital city, Lilongwe. On Monday, after hearings that lasted almost six months, Malawi’s Constitutional Court ruled that the presidential elections, which took place in May 2019, are to be annulled, and fresh elections have been ordered. In the ruling, the Court cited widespread irregularities, including the use of correction fluid (Tip-Ex), duplicate result sheets and unsigned results forms during the election. The Court’s focus was on the right of the Malawian people and to ensure that elections are carried out professionally and properly. This landmark ruling is hugely significant to Malawi, signalling the confidence the Courts of Justice have in their own independent power, an important aspect of any effective democracy.
As significant as this decision was, it was slightly overshadowed by the fact that I had the opportunity to play football in Malawi’s National Stadium. Even though the 40,000 seats were empty, it was an awesome and very surreal experience, one that my mediocre footballing skills did not quite match. I am glad to report that we won the game 4-3, but not so glad that I sprained my ankle and was out of action for the rest of the weekend! This injury casts some doubt over whether I will be fit to perform at the St Patrick’s Day Celebration next month (stay tuned for injury updates!)
In terms of my professional accomplishments, this week has been just as interesting. I attended the final learning workshop for PREPARE, an ECHO funded project which GOAL implemented in partnership with Save the Children and Oxfam. The project focused on developing an innovative new method for electronically transferring cash to those most in need. In co-operation with a Malawian bank, the project used a mobile banking app to quickly and efficiently transfer funds to households recovering from a disaster. GOAL is also a member of the national Cash Working Group, and I was also invited to join the monthly meeting of this group, which included a presentation on another new app called M-Khusa, which can be used for a similar purpose. M-Khusa is designed to support the establishment of village savings accounts, monitor the use of funds to ensure sustainable spending, and facilitate peer-to-peer loans. Both these projects highlight exciting new ways technology is being incorporated into emergency response work to improve efficiency, outreach and security. To see the aid sector adopting technology this way is really encouraging and I’m looking forward to see how it develops.