History and Mandate of Caritas Commission
The Caritas Commission is the social and economic development arm of the Diocese of Karonga. It was created in 2010 soon after the creation of the Diocese by Bishop Martin Mtumbuka. The Commission is responsible for complementing evangelization work by managing and coordinating all socio-economic development work of the Diocese through 4 of its Desks namely; Education, Health, Development/Sustainable Livelihoods and Justice and Peace. The Commission
Governance and Management of the Caritas Commission
The Caritas Commission is headed by the Caritas Secretary supervising the function by heads of desks under it.The Commission is governed by the Caritas Board of Commissioners. The Caritas Secretary is the secretary for the Board of Commissioners. The board ordinarily meets twice in a year but can also meet more than this when there is need to. The Commission’ board itself is composed of the 7 members; men and women. The Board is mandated to: Determine the policies in relation to financial and administrative matters; Establish committees and determine their mode of operation; Ensure that the Commission’s accounts are audited annually; Defend the Commission regarding legal proceedings in a court of law; Set powers, duties and responsibilities for the members of the Caritas Commission Management Team; The legal holder of all projects and programs implemented by the Commission is the Bishop of the Diocese.
Programs and Activity of the Commission
The Programs in the Commission are coordinated by the Caritas Secretary, though projects in each department are managed by a Desk Officer. Implementation of projects activities within departments is done by Project Officers and hed through both the Church and State. It thus works through Parish Structures including Justice and Peace, Development, Health and Education Committees at Parish and outstation levels. It also implements activities through Village and Area Development Committees and their respective thematic sub-committees.
Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning
The Caritas Commission has a robust and rigorous Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Learning System. This system is managed by the Monitoring and Evaluation Department and facilitates all monitoring, evaluation and learning in the Diocese. Through the department, the Commission maintains the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning data bases which are well updated to effectively inform project planning and implementation. The system also enables that project managers and field officers to timely prepare and submit reports to relevant partners.
The Commission implements most of its projects with funding from partners and donors. These finances and other resources are centrally managed by the Department of Finance, Investment and Administration (DOFIA). The finance department maintains timely and regularly updated Cashbooks, Bank Reconciliation Statements, Income and Expenditure / Financial report, Budget Expenditure Comparison Report prepared using QuickBooks accounting software. All Karonga Diocese accounts, including those for Caritas Commission, are audited on an annual basis by external auditors KPMG. The operation of the finance department is guided by a financial manual. Activities of the Finance Section are guided by an independent Diocesan Finance Council which enhances its efficient and effective functioning.
Key Strengths and Comparative Advantages
The Commission is strategically well positioned to successfully implement development projects that benefit many people in the three districts. This is owed to the following strengths and comparative advantages it has over other organizations working in the same districts in Malawi.
Deep and Wide Outreach
By the fact that Caritas Commission is an arm of Catholic Diocese of Karonga, which has one of the widest and deepest reach out in the community, Caritas Commission also enjoys this kind of reach-out. It is able to implement its activities in any place in the Diocese and some areas that other organizations fails or prefer not to go. Above all, Karonga Diocese has a motto; ‘We shall go to them’ which propels the Commission and all institutions in the Diocese to reach even the remotest territories in the Diocese. Thus, Caritas Commission remains unmatched is as regards community mobilization and empowerment.
Integrated institutional structure in the Commission and the whole Diocese
Karonga Diocese has an integrated institutional structure with a centralized management of finances and assets. Firstly, this enables for a holistic development programing which targets a human person in totality. The designing and implementing of activities strives to meet all people’s needs. This is successfully achieved owing to the fact that all sectors under Caritas Commission plan and implements program in an integrated manner. The centralized management of resources enhances efficient and accountable use of resources leading to the effectiveness of its program. This is not the case with other faith-based organizations.
Existence of visionary leadership that provide solid managerial and moral direction to the Commission
The Commissions enjoys visionary overall leadership from the Bishop of the Diocese. This provides unwavering moral and managerial direction to the commission as it implements projects, especially those with donor funding. This leadership inculcates a moral sense of stewardship and accountability among staff that has led to prudent management of resource, producing sustainable impact on the people the Commission serves. In practical terms, the leadership ensures that program evaluations and institutional audits are carried out and issues raised by these exercises are addresses and used in improving the management of the institution’s resources.
Availability of Tuntufye Radio; an effective means for development mass communication and education in the Diocese.
As most of the programs implemented by the Commission relates to information distribution and education; that seek to transform people thoughts and cultures, Karonga Diocese established Tuntufye radio station. The Diocese used the radio for evangelization, news and social development communication. Comparatively, this radio station has strong reception in all areas covered by the Diocese and beyond while it has a focus to reach the areas that other public and private radio stations have failed to reach. Above all, Tuntufye radio has already attained one of the largest listenership in the three districts. The Commission uses this radio to raise awareness of development activity and enhances advocacy in line with the programs it implements. The commission uses the radio at very minimum costs.
Operating locally but having national level linkage and coordination by Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and other networks.
The Caritas Commission of Karonga Diocese has territorial jurisdictional autonomy to implement development interventions in response to local issues. At the same time, all the Desks under the Commission are linked and aligned to similar Desks at the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, where all the 8 dioceses meets. This helps to enhance information sharing and learning for the Desks leading to high quality intervention designing and implementation. This also helps to bridge issues from the grassroots to policymakers at national level and vice versa. This strength is conspicuously absent in other local organizations working in the three districts. Above all, the desks under the Commission belong to a number of district and national level networks of civil society in line with their thematic areas.
The Current Caritas Secretary is Mr Mwawi Shaba