The Nkhata Bay Natural Way (NBNW) programme started in July 2015. It was a partnership between Temwa Malawi, ITF and Deki Ltd. The programme was awarded grant funding from the Big Lottery International Communities programme and the JJ Trust.
In March 2016 Temwa informed ITF that there had been suspected fraud perpetrated by members of Temwa staff. Following investigations and a Due Diligence review conducted by ITF, it was confirmed that there had been a misappropriation of grant funds totalling £2,002 for NBNW in relation to currency transfers. The staff members concerned were either dismissed or resigned.
In early 2017 a further episode of alleged fraudulent activity by Temwa staff was uncovered. This included the NBNW Project Manager, who was dismissed in March 2017. It was also discovered that staff at the Standard Bank branch in Mzuzu had been involved. Standard Bank has made a significant payment to reimburse some of the losses. The fraud was compounded by inadequate financial and procurement systems, poor record keeping and a lack of oversight by the Temwa Malawi Board.
In June 2017 the ITF Board of Trustees agreed to recommend a voluntary closure of the Big Lottery grant and ITF’s direct involvement with the NBNW programme ended in September 2017. ITF is working closely with Temwa Malawi and the Big Lottery to establish a final figure for the total grant losses; and these funds will be returned to the Big Lottery. ITF has also formally reported the incident to the Charity Commission (Ref: 1106269/471740).
The NBNW programme itself achieved many positive results with local communities in 110 villages in Nkhata Bay North in its first two years. The vast majority of grant funding was spent legitimately for the purposes intended. ITF staff conducted annual monitoring visits to verify the work that has been taking place.
Temwa Malawi has chosen to build on the positive achievements of the first two years by continuing the programme in a revised form by merging it with a sister programme, the Nkhata Bay Natural Resource Initiative. Temwa has implemented a recovery and consolidation plan and adopted a series of recommendations made by ITF. A new post of CEO has been established and Peter Chinoko took up the post in October 2017. The Board has appointed a new Chair and a further five new Trustees have been recruited to strengthen organisational governance.
ITF has worked with Temwa since 2010 and is naturally disappointed that the valuable work being undertaken with local communities has been undermined by staff malpractice. ITF is commissioning a Learning Review to identify what lessons we can learn to help prevent any future occurrences of fraud. The ITF Board has already approved an updated Anti-Corruption, Fraud and Bribery Policy and a new Due Diligence Policy. ITF will do all it can to ensure that the normal high standards and quality of our programmes and projects is sustained and enhanced.