Who leads? Village development committees and local governance in Southern Malawi
Since the 1980s, many developing countries have enacted policies of decentralization to create localized, representative forms of government. A highly under-studied body of local governance are village development committees (VDCs). Utilizing a mixed-method approach in three districts of Southern Malawi, we combine surveys, focus groups, and interviews to examine the role of VDCs in local politics. Selected by their peers, VDC members navigate a complicated landscape including: local and central politicians, government bureaucrats, NGOs and special interest groups, and traditional authorities. We find that citizens are accurately able to evaluate the development work that VDCs are doing and consistently rate their trust in these institutions higher than their trust in elected authorities. Still, challenges persist: members receive no standardized training and there are consistent gender gaps in the experiences of men and women members of the VDCs.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Maiden, E., Guzman, D.B., Bleck, J. (2020) Who leads? Village development committees and local governance in Southern Malawi. Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions. 34(3), 855-873.