This paper is based on a study undertaken to critically understand the dynamics of policy-making and processes under the auspices of the Future Agricultures Consortium‟s (FAC) sub-theme on politics and policy processes hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the United Kingdom.
This study reveals three main things, namely: 1) that the social protection policy process is being treated entirely as a technical process; 2) the lack of capacity among leading government agencies to provide the necessary leadership and technical guidance and direction to the policy process; and 3) the fact that policy design has so far been totally driven and determined by donor agencies, particularly DFID and the World Bank. Politicians are yet to be engaged in the process. Neither have the lower level government structures, widely touted as the locus of implementation of the social protection programmes within the framework of decentralization, nor the grassroots been consulted or meaningfully involved in the process as yet. Consultations with local government structures and the grassroots are planned for after the policy is finalized.
This study drew essentially on the review of secondary sources (academic papers, government and donor documents) and on key informant interviews with officials from government, donor agencies and civil society. The analysis is structured along four sections. After this introduction, Section 2 explains the international and national contexts leading to the prominence of the social protection agenda. Section 3 provides a brief historical perspective about the origins and the evolution of social protection in Malawi. Section 4 critically examines the social protection policy processes to date focusing mainly on outstanding issues and constraints. Section 5 provides some concluding reflections.