The Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor of Malawi

July 20, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
July 20, 2019 Patrick L Scully, Participedia Team
July 14, 2019 Patrick L Scully, Participedia Team
April 24, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
September 18, 2017 Ethan Way
July 6, 2017 Ethan Way

Mission and Purpose

The Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor (FRUP), in alliance with the Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE), seeks to “train poor communities in fields such as the importance of daily community savings, income generation, and general community development.” (CCODE, 2017)

Origins and Development

FRUP was founded in 2003 as a grassroots network of savings groups across Malawi, specifically focusing on women. In an interview with the top management of FRUP, one female national leader described why there was such an emphasis on female participation, explaining that “men are usually off to work and women are not working, most of them are housewives. So, it was something that we embraced because we were readily available and it was also something that we knew we could take part in.”

The federation quickly grew in popularity. A different national leader described how she discovered FRUP in 2003, stating, “I had started seeing these women getting together, doing their savings everyday. I was just seeing these people who were able to save and after six months share the money, supporting their husbands. So, I was so interested in joining the group because I had seen the improvement that the other women were able to achieve. So that’s why I joined the group, to improve my life through the savings from the federation groups.” She continued and identified two other reasons why FRUP was attractive to her. Firstly, she described how happy she was at “being able to keep your money not in the bank”. Secondly, she stated that, “I was also interested in just joining the group because I have learned a lot from the other women who participate in the federation.”

Stories like this are widespread and amounted to tens of thousands of women joining the federation in its early stages of operation. Ultimately, membership grew to 80,000 people, so large that FRUP made the decision to join an alliance with CCODE, which could provide administrative, financial and development guidance. Today, FRUP “operates in 26 districts across Malawi, and over 80 per cent of its members are women. Women are central to the organization. The majority of members live in poor urban and rural communities.” (CCODE, 2017)

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor (FRUP) has a current membership of 80,000 people. There are five distinct networks within the structure of FRUP. These are: skills and livelihoods, construction, slum upgrading, waste for worth, and savings. Each network has a national leader, and once a month these leaders meet with the top management of CCODE to discuss issues that have been identified at the regional, district, and zone levels. FRUP receives its funding from CCODE and is affiliated with Slum Dwellers International.

Specializations, Methods and Tools

Although FRUP originally only specialized in savings groups, the federation has evolved. There is now five networks within FRUP that all focus on specific areas of development. They are: skills and livelihoods, construction, slum upgrading, waste for worth, and savings. Regardless of this expansion, savings is still the major focus of FRUP and thus savings is a crosscutting theme of the Federation.

Major Projects and Events

As mentioned above, the major project of FRUP is aimed at encouraging the poor, specifically, women, to save. Members save daily and meet weekly throughout the country.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

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See Also



External Links

The Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor: 


Lead image: World Habitat,