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This paper examines the governance challenges in the management of Covid-19 response operations in Malawi. The paper contrasts inefficiencies within the Malawi Public Sector Covid-19 response system (PSCRS), against a more efficient but resource-constrained citizens’ initiative. Utilising a wicked problems theoretical perspective in the background, this qualitative study collected data from official government publications on the one hand, and from social media platforms – Facebook, and official records of the citizens’ initiative known as the Covid Response Private Citizens (CRPC), on the other hand. We undertook a comparative analysis of resources at the disposal of each initiative and their respective outputs. The findings show that the citizens’ initiative was accountable, with more efficient and transparent humanitarian response operations than the PSCRS. Further, the PSCRS demonstrated systemic deficiency and wickedness, characterised by misappropriation and other forms of abuse of public funds meant for the pandemic. Thus, the citizens’ initiative achieved more with far limited resources than the public sector initiative. This paper argues that in the fight against the pandemic, public funds could have been saved and needless loss of lives averted had the PSCRS operated with the same level of efficiency, responsiveness and accountability as the CRPC in the procurement and disbursement of essential Covid-19 supplies and other interventions. The paper concludes that the PSCRS is in itself a wicked problem that requires a solution before it can be deployed to deal with a more wicked problem, the Covid-19 pandemic.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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