Roundtable meeting with Fiona Ritchie, FCDO Development Director, Malawi
SMP and MaSP Members were invited to join a hybrid roundtable meeting with Fiona Ritchie, the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Development Director for Malawi. This role was previously known as the Head of DFID Malawi, before the merging of the FCO and DFID.
This co-hosted SMP and MaSP meeting allowed members to introduce themselves and their work to Fiona Ritchie, gave us a chance to get to know each other and to discuss key topics in the bilateral relationship.
Fiona Ritchie briefed members on the strategic priorities of the UK Government and the Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford MP, after her recent visit to Malawi, as well as updating on operational matters relating to FCDO Malawi’s evolving work.
Fiona said that she anticipates the publication of the UK Government’s International Development Strategy in the next few weeks and expects it to include focus on the importance of: Women & Girls; Humanitarian and Crisis Response; Global Health Security and Climate & the Environment. She does not yet know what Malawi’s Overseas’ Development Aid budget will be but anticipates continuing to focus on 3 main areas:
- Breaking the cycle – supporting the Government of Malawi in challenging corruption;
- Private Sector empowerment including macro-economic gains
- Preparing for the Future, most especially for population growth.
Members were able to suggest key topics for discussion. We briefly discussed five of the most commonly suggested topics:
- FCDO cuts in Malawi
- Trade, business and investment
- Climate change
Fiona had brief introductions with everyone participating in the room, prior to the starts of the meeting and those online who wished to, were invited to introduce themselves verbally or via Zoom’s Chat’s function. There were a number of opportunities for Q&A and discussion during the meeting which participants welcomed, and Fiona took time to stay on after the close of the session to engage further with those attending in person.
Three arising SMP actions promised were to: hold a Water Forum within 6 months; host a Sports for Change event; and share information on UK Gov’s call for proposals in its Climate Adaptation & Resilience (CLARE) programme.
The meeting had five objectives:
- Share FCDO Malawi information, updates and priorities with SMP and MaSP members
- Give FCDO Malawi insight into the depth and breadth of SMP and MaSP members’ work together
- Briefly discuss key topics and priorities identified by members
- Explore constructive areas for increased cooperation between members and FCDO Malawi
- Create an open, inclusive and transparent space for two-way dialogue and generally strengthen the relationship between FCDO and SMP/MaSP members
Fiona Ritchie is originally from Edinburgh and very kindly agreed to this meeting while on leave back in Scotland. This meeting builds on our last roundtable with Fiona in April 2021.
We are extremely grateful to senior officials at the FCDO Malawi for their efforts to reach out and engage members of the SMP.
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