In celebration of Trustees Week, we caught up with the Chair of the Board in Malawi, to hear about his background, experiences and the future he envisions for Temwa.
Dr Msukwa has had an extensive career within development, which began with his doctoral research exploring traditional African systems for conflict transformation. Through this research, he has created his own approach to development – the ‘conversational based development model’ – which recognises that community transformation must begin with understanding.
Since then, Dr Msukwa has held a variety of roles within community development; an approach which puts community members, and their priorities, at the centre of development efforts. Working in a variety of roles, from Assistant District Commissioner to District Agricultural Development Officer, Dr Msukwa has advised on a host of social, environmental and economic issues.
Throughout his career, Dr Msukwa has continually challenged damaging assumptions within the development sector. Through engaging directly with the communities themselves, he has worked to understand why some individuals fail to utilise all the services offered to them. Crucially, he has come to appreciate the complex relationship different communities have with development initiatives.
In August 2016, Dr Msukwa became a member of Temwa’s Malawi board. He brought with him a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion. In June 2017, he became the board’s Chair.
In terms of the communities which Temwa work with, Dr Msukwa notes that some of the key challenges which face people in this region concern food security, limited access to safe drinking water, high rates of deforestation and limited access to education and healthcare.
‘That part of Malawi is beautiful, if it was dressed with trees it would be beautiful. Trees are going and going and leaving the land bare and leading catastrophe in the future. These issues need to be addressed’.
Nkhata Bay North is marginalised. It is one of the hardest to reach areas in Malawi and as such, presents a unique set of challenges. The road from the nearest town, Mzuzu, is 50km to Usisya, it is a mountainous dirt track full of rocks and boulders, even in the dry season it takes two hours to drive. In the rainy season it takes a day due to continuously getting stuck in the mud. The remoteness means there are limited service providers in the area and the government development structures are weak, making it a difficult to mobilise and engage the community members. It is the belief of Dr Msukwa that this makes Temwa’s work all the more important; ‘reaching out to people who are forgotten.’
We are excited to see what the future holds for Temwa. Dr Msukwa has big ambitions for the organisation and aims for Temwa to be a large organisation covering all districts in Northern Malawi within three years. We aspire to be known regionally and nationally as an organisation that transforms the livelihoods of vulnerable and marginalised people in Malawian society. At Temwa, we are looking forward to learning from Dr Msukwa’s skills, expertise, and enthusiasm, to continually grow as an organisation.
On behalf of all the Temwa team, we want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our amazing trustees in the UK and Malawi!