A Day in the Life in Malawi: Guest post by Francis Kachala

Today’s day in the life guest post comes from our new Country Coordinator for Malawi, Francis Kachala:

It’s tuesday morning, January 13, 2015 in Malawi and the rains which have been falling for the past 48hrs racking havoc (flooding, displacing people, disrupting education and other economic activities, destroying crops and infrastructure and in extreme cases causing deaths)  in some parts of the country continue. Despite this, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are holding anti-government peaceful demonstrations in the major cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba and the municipality of Karonga. The street protests targets the country’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika whose Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM) is being accused of bulldozing its way to get a K5 million grant from the National Aids Commission (NAC). Other body targeted is the tribal grouping Mulhakho wa Alhomwe whose patron is the country’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika. The grouping is also said to have benefitted from NAC finds. Apart from BEAM the activists have included deteriorating state of governance and socio-economic living conditions in Malawi as part of their petition to government. Although the atmosphere is tense as the demonstrators will pass through a few meters away from our office buildings, life has to go on.

It’s 08:00hrs and just getting into the office and after few greetings to one or two work colleagues it’s time to get down to business. Firstly, there is a bunch of mail which I without hesitation encode, scan, upload and register into the Advanced Records System (ARES) and attribute them to responsible staff. By the time I finish this task, the Document Management Officer (DMO) is at my office door, beaming with a smile as usual, “Hi Francis, are we set?” “Oh!” I exclaim with surprise looking at my watch which tells me it’s 10:30hrs and I have just remembered that we are supposed to have an archiving meeting with her. “Should we do it here or we go around the archive rooms?” She asks while looking inquisitively at a lady who has just joined me in my office. “I think we should first go around the archive rooms to assess the situation and then we can come back and discuss whatever impression we get from there.” Being the beginning of the year, I am supposed to make a proposition of what I will do for the rest of the year with regards to records management and archives administration. We set off for the archive rooms and as we climb the stairs she ask “Who’s that lady in your office?” I realize why she looked at her inquisitively, “Oh, you have not been introduced?” I ask her. “No” she responds. “Well, she is a trainee who has just been attached to our section”, I respond. One by one (four in all) we visit the archive rooms taking note of what is supposed to be done to each range of records. We then wrap up and get back to my office where we put pen to paper actions to be followed with the section secretaries who act as records managers in their sections. 

Meeting over, I go through my mail in Ms Outlook Express and among them, I come across a workflow which has been assigned to me by the Rural Development and Food Security (RDFS) Secretary through ARES notifying me that there are records requiring transfer from her section to the Finance, Contracts and Audit Section as they had become non-current and therefore unnecessarily occupying valuable space in the offices. I immediately set off to her office to cross-check the consignment of the records with the excel sheet list she had attached in ARES and having satisfied myself, I finish the e-Signatory in ARES in effect assigning the VISA task to the DMO. By the time I finish this it is already 12:00hrs! Time for lunch and I quickly grab my packed lunch and rush to the cafeteria to fill my belly which by this time was already complaining!

After satisfying my belly, I rush back to my office and without delay sit in front of my computer, open the Delegation Malawi Archives Database (Demarc) and start importing the excel sheet sent by the RDFS secretary effectively updating the database as well as providing a way to furnish accurately, timely and complete information to staff for efficient decision making with regards to the EU’s policy objectives for development cooperation as confirmed in Article 1 of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 and revised in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005, namely to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries, including Malawi, into the world economy. As I finish the task, a reminder in Ms Outlook Express pops up jogging my memory that it is 5 minutes before the Section meeting. I quickly organize my files getting ready for the weekly meeting meant to update each other on the previous week’s assignments, what we have managed to do, what we have not managed to do, why we have not managed to do as well as plan ahead. By the time we finish the meeting, it is already 16:55! It’s knocking off time and as I get out of the office, I quickly sign in to the malawi.ilnetwork@gmail.com account on my mobile phone and find a couple of requests for information regarding the next round of applications! Waooooh! So fast!!!!!

Francis hard at work at his desk

Francis hard at work at his desk

Thank you for sharing your day with us Francis!

If you are interested in being one of our Country Coordinators like Francis, you can find out more information here.

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