Over the years, the Malawi government has adapted a decentralized system of government in running the affairs of the local areas in the country. The decentralization process through the local government Act of 1998 has established 38 local authorities, including Zomba District Assembly, throughout the country. The Act also empowers local government authorities to promote infrastructural development and economic development through the District Development Planning System. Thus every three years assemblies are obliged to produce a development plan of the respective local government area.
Essentially, the District Development Planning System (DDPS) is a local level planning framework developed to ensure that planning is a participatory process and works from the bottom upwards. The DDPS encourages community participation from village level to the district assembly level by employing methods such as Participation Rural Appraisal and Village Action Planning. However, there is no clear cut methodology used by the Village Development Committees to identify and screen projects at a local level. In addition, planning aspects such as access data collection, data analysis, mapping and access profiles and implementers of access interventions are not adequately addressed in the DDP System.
It is against this background that Zomba District Assembly has adopted an Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP) tool to complement planning at local level.
IRAP is a locally based tool that advances the issues of poverty based on the concept that the lack of access of rural people to goods and services is one of the fundamental constraints to development and that improving access is a necessary step towards poverty alleviation.
To enhance access in the district and thereby to improve people’s living conditions and make it easier for them to satisfy their basic social and economic needs.
• To promote access data management in the DDP system
• To map out accessibility and in turn provide visual aid as well as clarify
• To facilitate formulation of access intervention in the DDP System
• To enhance impact assessment of intervention in the DDP System
• To promote cross -Sectoral (network) planning in the DDP system