THE 2022 K25.7 million community development fund (CDF) hit the local accounts within first week of January.
The efficient disbursement of the CDF is declaration of intent by the new spring administration that it has a different approach to statecraft. It is no longer business as usual (BAU). As many have pointed out so far, there is however a concern on lack of adequate capacity for effective delivery of projects so that we can avoid as much waste as possible.
The implementing agencies such as Kitwe City Council do not have fully equipped and highly qualified community development officers.
In fact, in most local authorities, CDF sits within engineering or planning directorates. The overall purpose of Community Development Fund (CDF) is the holistic human development of which infrastructure development is small part.
The major part is promotion of socio-economic and political wholeness, and the best placed directorate for project management is the community development directorate.
This does not mean community development officers should work in silos, but are simply better placed to facilitate the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of projects being initiated in various communities. Under this new CDF regime, we need to approach the 2022 funding cycle is a piloting phase and prepare to learn lessons for the coming years. This is because, from the view point of the timeframe, this quarter is likely to be spent on project appraisal, selection and approval.
This leaves only second and third quarter for implementation. The fourth quarter is for project evaluation and reporting. Even where some projects stalled for lack of funding and should be re-visited, there is need for reassessment of new needs, and this requires time and expertise. So, this is not a walk in the park.
There is also need to reassess the current CDF project cycle so that it is re-aligned with the national budgeting process. The project appraisal, selection and approval should be done in the fourth quarter of the year so that project implementation kicks off in January.