The Community Road Maintenance Programme (CRMP) is a form of length-man contract system for routine maintenance of rural roads whereby a community road maintenance club is contracted to maintain a specific length of rural road rehabilitated under the Income Generating Public Works Programme (IGPWP) and Rural Infrastructure Development Programme (RIDP) using cost-effective labour-intensive methods.

The Programme is currently maintaining 4,633 Km through 621 community road maintenance clubs in 17 districts of: Mzimba, Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Kasungu, Mchinji, Lilongwe, Dowa, Salima, Dedza, Ntcheu, Mangochi, Machinga, Zomba, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Thyolo and Mulanje.

Objectives of the CRMP

The overall goal of the CRMP is to contribute to the reduction of poverty amongst the rural people in line with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS). The objectives of the CRMP are:

  1. To improve access by rural communities to various social services through sustainable maintenance of rural roads.
  2. To improve participation and empowerment of the rural communities through training in intensive labour-based technologies on road maintenance.
  3. To improve the livelihoods of the rural communities through the creation of income earning opportunities.

Structure of the CRMP

Under the CRMP, a community road maintenance club is contracted to maintain a specific length of a rural road. Each club member is responsible for maintaining one kilometre stretch throughout the year using labour-based methods.

The individual club membership/size is determined by the length of the road and ranges from four (4) to twelve (12) members. Community road maintenance clubs are supervised on the sites by Community Road Foremen and there are currently 291 road foremen that are supervising the 621 clubs. Mostly, the community road foremen combine clubs. It is required that the stretch of the road under the programme is usable throughout the year by both motorised and non-motorised traffic.

Selection of club members and women participation

The club members and the road foremen are selected from among the village members living in proximity to the road to be maintained and as part of gender mainstreaming, women are strongly encouraged to participate and the programme targets at least 40% of each club membership to comprise women.

To ensure local ownership and active participation, the selection and replacement of the individual club members and road foremen is done in consultation with the local chiefs and the district councils.

Training and working tools

The selected club members and road foremen are then trained in routine labour-based road maintenance skills and technologies to enable them carry out such tasks as: inspecting and removing all obstructions, filling potholes and minor gullies, reinstating camber, clearing side drains and opening culverts, opening mitre drains and clearing stream channels, repairing structures and clearing drainages and grass cutting.

The club members and road foremen are given all the necessary tools needed to carry out the road maintenance and supervision activities. Typical road maintenance tools issue to the club members include: shovels, hoes, slashers, rakes, water buckets, hand rammers, phanga knives, picks, spirit levels, camber boards, wheel barrows, traffic cones, gloves, gumboots, overalls, reflective jackets and raincoats. Tools issued to road foremen include: bicycles, tapes, hard cover notebooks, arch lever files, reflective jackets, rain coats and leather boots.

The club members are also trained in entrepreneurship and small-scale business management skills as they are encouraged to venture into small-scale businesses, such as livestock rearing, for further income generating activities.

Implementation of the CRMP

The responsibility for the implementation of the programme is with the district councils. Under the overall guidance of the District Commissioner and the general supervision of the Director of Public Works, the District Road Supervisors manage the CRMP. The District Road Supervisors provide day-to-day operational and administrative support to the community road foremen for the proper implementation of the programme.

Under the direct supervision of the District Road Supervisors, the Community Road Foremen assign monthly tasks to clubs and club members, measure the extent of completion of the assigned tasks and submit monthly performance reports of each club to the district councils. Using the submitted monthly performance reports, the district councils prepare performance-based certificates for payment by the RFA for the works done in the month.

Financing of the CRMP

The financing responsibilities of the CRMP are assumed by the RFA. The RFA provide the funding required to meet the recurrent costs of the CRMP. The RFA pays for the monthly wages to the club members and the road foremen. The RFA pays for the district councils’ CRMP operational and administrative costs. The RFA also replaces the road maintenance tools for the club members and the road foremen every three years.

  FY 2017/18 FY 2016/17 FY 2015/16 FY 2014/15 FY 2013/14
Annual Expenses (MK) 1,121,000,000 734,000,000 679,000,000 328,000,000 318,000,000
Annual Expenses (US$) 1,544,000 1,012,000 942,000 744,000 723,000
Year-on-year increase 53% 8% 107% 3% 3%

In late 2015/16 financial year, the RFA took over an additional 2,309 kilometres in to the CRMP. In 2017/18 financial year, the RFA financed replacement of road maintenance working tools.

The current minimum monthly wage rates are MK11, 000 (about US$15) for club members and MK14, 000 (about US$19) for road foremen. Payment for road maintenance activities is based on performance whereby when all activities are done as specified and on time, the club member receives 100% of the wage rate plus bonus or less if some activities have not been done.

The clubs and road foremen have bank accounts and the RFA pays the monthly certified wages directly into the clubs and road foremen bank accounts. The distribution of the monthly wages amongst club members is overseen by the road foremen and the clubs’ leadership comprising of the chairperson, secretary and treasurer.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The District Road Supervisors conduct monthly supervision visits to the community road foremen and the clubs. Other District Council officials also periodically visit the clubs to monitor progress and performance of the programme in their district.

To ensure that there is always value for money, the RFA – through periodic technical audits – monitors the implementation of the CRMP by the participating district councils.

Impacts of the CRMP