The Council for NGOs in Malawi (CONGOMA) is a membership umbrella organization for Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). CONGOMA is a designated NGO coordinating body in Malawi as stipulated in Section 24 and 25 of the Non-governmental Organizations Act 2000. Membership to CONGOMA is open to National and International NGOs and stands at 550 in total as of September 30, 2013. The control, accountability and responsibility for ongoing operations of CONGOMA are exercised on behalf of CONGOMA Members by Trustees, a Governing Council, a Finance and Administration Committee and a Standards Committee chosen by Membership, elected by them and accountable to them. Trustees, Governors and Committee Members work on voluntary basis. Implementation of CONGOMA policies and operations is undertaken by a Secretariat composed of professional paid staff. The Non-Governmental Organizations which comprise the Membership of CONGOMA are separate autonomous organizations. All have development of, or in, Malawi as their wider objective, but the natural and size of the individual organizations, the sectors and geographical locations they work in, and the methods they use vary widely. This autonomy and wide diversity is strength and through it the NGO Community has the potential to contribute significantly to development in Malawi. It is to maximize strengths and to minimize weaknesses that CONGOMA exists to do but also to be a platform for sharing experiences to influence good governance and development agenda in Malawi.
Historically civil Society has existed before 1900. During the early days of British rule Native Associations and independent Church Organizations existed to advocate for pro-national (pro-black) policies and provided social services (education, health etc) to the people. It is against this background that when nationalistic movements for independence started, most of these civil organizations were drafted in the fight for independence which Malawi got in 1964. After independence and short democratic dispensation then, civic groups were no longer wanted to continue with mobilization of the people for a better Malawi. The tensions and squabbles continued between one Party State and civic groups when in early 1970s one of the early Christian NGOs offices (Christian Service Committee – CSC) were closed for reasons that they were doing ‘rights based’ approach to community development which was prohibited then. Discussions ensued between CSC and Government which led to the formation of a Working Party Committee. This working party transformed into a Council for Social Welfare Services in Malawi (CSWSM) in 1985 as a blocker of peace between NGOs and Government. The Council for NGOs in Malawi (CONGOMA) took over from CSWSM after CSWSM changed name to CONGOMA in 1992.