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Malawi Situation of Urbanisation Report

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Situation analysis of urbanisation in Malawi Report was prepared as background document for the urban policy preparation process
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MALAWI GOVERNMENT
MINISTRY OF LANDS AND HOUSING
SITUATION OF URBANISATION
IN MALAWI REPORT
15 July 2013
PREPARED BY:
Mtafu A.Z. Manda
Alma-Urac
P.O. Box 876, Mzuzu. Malawi.
Cell: +265 991457272; 991457275, 888687277
Email: mazmanda@yahoo.com.
Consultancy services to prepare a national urban policy framework
Contract No: LH/013/IPC/1/151/12/03
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS ........................................................................................................... 2
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ....................................................................................................... 4
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACCRONYMS ............................................................................... 5
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................. 6
1.1 BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................. 6
1.2 PURPOSE AND METHODOLOGY .............................................................................. 7
CHAPTER 2: DEFINING ‘URBAN’ AND URBANISATION ............................................... 8
2.1 URBAN AS AN ENTITY OR PLACE ........................................................................... 8
2.2 URBAN AS QUALITY ................................................................................................. 10
2.3 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 11
CHAPTER 3: URBANISATION TRENDS AND PATTERNS ......................................... 12
3.1 URBANISATION TRENDS ......................................................................................... 12
3.2 COMPARISON OF URBANISATION BY REGION ................................................. 14
3.3 COMPARISON OF URBAN SETTLEMENTS ........................................................... 15
3.4 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 20
CHAPTER 4: DRIVERS OF URBANISATION .................................................................... 21
4.1 DRIVING FORCES FOR URBANIZATION............................................................... 21
4.3 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 27
CHAPTER 5: URBANISATION AND DEVELOPMENT .................................................... 28
5.1 URBANISATION AND DEVELOPMENT ................................................................. 28
5.2 URBANISATION AND MALAWI DEVELOPMENT ............................................... 30
5.3 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 30
CHAPTER 6: URBANISATION AND POVERTY ............................................................... 32
6.1 POVERTY IN URBAN AREAS ................................................................................... 32
6.2 LEVEL OF URBAN POVERTY IN MALAWI ........................................................... 32
6.3 PROCESS OF URBANISATION OF POVERTY ................................................... 34
6.4 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 35
CHAPTER 7: INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES DELIVERY .................................... 36
7.1 URBANIZATION TRENDS AND SERVICES ........................................................... 36
7.2 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 43
CHAPTER 8: SETTLEMENT HIERARCHY ASSESSMENT ............................................. 44
8.1 RATIONALE OF URBAN HIERARCHY ................................................................... 44
8.2 NUMBER AND SIZE OF URBAN CENTRES ........................................................... 45
8.3 HAS DECENTRALISED URBANISATION STRATEGY WORKED? ..................... 47
8.4 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 53
CHAPTER 9: ADDRESSING URBANISATION PROBLEMS ............................................ 54
9.1 URBAN CHALLENGE................................................................................................. 54
9.2 RURAL GROWTH CENTRES PROJECT ................................................................... 54
9.3 SECONDARY CENTRES DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS .......................................... 56
9.4 URBAN MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE ................................................. 58
9.5 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................. 60
CHAPTER 10: STATE OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT................................................ 62
10.1 URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS .......................................................... 62
10.2 URBAN WASTE MANAGEMENT ........................................................................... 62
10.3 URBAN CLIMATE VULNERABILITY.................................................................... 64
10.4 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................ 66
CHAPTER 11: URBAN HOUSING ....................................................................................... 67
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11.1 HOUSING STOCK ..................................................................................................... 67
11.2 HOUSING QUALITY ................................................................................................. 67
11.3 HOUSING ACTORS AND MARKETS ..................................................................... 68
11.4 FUTURE HOUSING NEED ....................................................................................... 69
11.6 HOUSING POLICY .................................................................................................... 72
11.7 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 72
CHAPTER 12: INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORKS............................................................. 73
12.1 LEGAL AND POLICY FRAMEWORK ................................................................... 73
12.2 FINANCIAL FRAMEWORKS ................................................................................... 77
12.3 INSTITUTIONS INVOLVED IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT .................................. 81
12.4 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 85
CHAPTER 13: URBAN LAND AND DEVELOPMENT CONTROL .................................. 86
13.1 PROCEDURES TO ACCESS LAND ......................................................................... 86
13.2 EFFECTIVENESS OF DEVELOPMENT CONTROL OF URBAN LAND ............. 87
13.3 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 94
CHAPTER 14: CONCLUSION AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ............................ 95
14.1 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 95
14.2 CHALLENGES AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS......................................... 95
REFERENCES ...................................................................................................................... 113
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The consultant thanks all officials in the Ministry of Lands and Housing for the
support rendered during the course of this assignment. Special thanks go to the
Commissioner for Physical Planning, Felix Tukula, and all his members of staff for
their guidance. Thanks are also due to all council staff, government departments and
stakeholders for the information which formed the basis of the report and
recommendations. All contributions from participants at the 28 June 2013
stakeholders meeting are greatly appreciated.
Mtafu A.Z. Manda,
Alma-Urac Consult
Email: mazmanda@yahoo.com.
15 July, 2013
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ABBREVIATIONS AND ACCRONYMS
ADC: Area Development Commiteee
AfDB: African Development Bank
CDF: Constituency Development Fund
DEC: District Executive Committee
DfiD: (UK) Department for international Development
DoDMA: Department of Disaster Management Affairs
EC: European Commission
EIA: Environmental impact assessment
ERP: Economic Recovery Plan
GIZ: German Internation Corporation
GoM: Government of Malawi
LDF: Local Development Fund
MALGA: Malawi Local Governments Association
MASAF: Malawi Social Action Fund
MLG&RD: Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
MDGs: Millennium Development Goals
MGDS: Malawi Growth and Development Strategy
MHC: Malawi Housing Corporation
MP: Member of Parliament
MUST: Malawi University of Science and Technology
NLGFC: National local government Finance committee
NGO: Non Governmental Organisation
NPDP: National Physical Development Plan
NUP: National Urban Policy
NSO: National Statistics Office
OPC: Office of the President and Cabinet
RGCP: Rural Growth Centres Project
SCDP: Secondary Centres Development Programme
TCPD: Town and Country Planning Department
TMC: Town Management Committee
USA: United States of America
VDC: Village Development Committee
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SITUATION OF URBANISATION IN MALAWI
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND
The Government of Malawi (GoM) through the Ministry of Lands and Housing
intends to formulate an urban policy based on the observed fact that urbanization is
a key national development concern arising out of the growing urban population.
The 2008 Population and Housing Census found that 15.3% of the national population
lives in urban areas of various sizes. Although this is a moderate level of
urbanization compared to many countries, the rate of urbanization of 5.2% per
annum is very high compared to the national growth rate of 2.8% per year. As such,
the national urbanization level of 15.3% is expected to rise to 30% by 2030 and 50%
by 2050.
The 1987 National Physical Development Plan (NPDP) defines urban centres
according to levels of service provision such as administration, commerce and
business, health, education and infrastructure. Currently Malawi has four cities of
Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba. According to the hierarchy of service
provision, there are two national centres of Blantyre and Lilongwe, one regional
centre of Mzuzu, sub- regional centres of Karonga, Liwonde, Mangochi, Salima,
Dedza and Bangula. Below the sub-regional urban centres are district or main
market centres, rural market centres and village centres.
The rapid urbanization process has resulted in the mushrooming and expansion of
informal settlements, poor infrastructure and basic service delivery and location of
national projects in centres other than suggested by the NPDP. Urban authorities are
experiencing serious constraints in planning and management of urban
development
This situation has been worsened by the rural based focus of Malawi’s development
agenda and lack of political will. As a result, urban areas tend to have inadequate
funds and capacity. This entails inadequate level of basic services and weak
accountability in governance structures, which leads to deprivation of rights, lack of
participation and unsatisfactory achievements of national and international
development goals. The resulting situation is characterized by lack of control,
guidance and regulation of developments in both established and emerging towns.
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Attempts to address the situation outlined above have been negatively affected by
lack of an appropriate national policy to guide the urbanization process, promote
sustainable urban development and enhance capacities for effective urban
governance.
Therefore, the Government of Malawi (GoM) decided to formulate the National
Urban Policy (NUP) that can guide urbanisation and urban development.
1.2 PURPOSE AND METHODOLOGY
The overall objective of the assignment was the preparation of a situation analysis of
urbanisation that would form a framework or basis for the urban policy formulation
to realise a sustainable urban system in Malawi. Specifically, the assignment
attempted to identify key urban issues, propose and recommend policy principles
and issues and develop terms of reference for the policy formulation process.
In order to achieve this, desk studies and stakeholder consultations were conducted
between January and March 2013. The stakeholders consulted were central
government ministries and departments, local governments, NGOs, academic
institutions, professional bodies and development partners. This report presents an
analysis of the information so collected and recommends issues of policy coverage.
In addition to this introduction, the rest of the report is structured into chapters as
follows:
Chapter 2: Defining urban and urbanisation
Chapter 3: Urbanisation trends and patterns
Chapter 4: Drivers of urbanisation
Chapter 5: Urbanisation and development
Chapter 6: Urbanisation and poverty
Chapter 7: Infrastructure and services delivery
Chapter 8: Settlement hierarchy assessment
Chapter 9: Addressing urbanisation problems
Chapter 10: State of the urban environment
Chapter 11: Urban housing
Chapter 12: Institutional frameworks
Chapter 13: Urban land and development control
Chapter 14: Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
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CHAPTER 2: DEFINING URBAN’ AND URBANISATION
Urbanisation is the transition from a mainly rural to mainly urban society that
follows and supports a process of concentrating popualtion and economic activities
in urban settlements. A clear understanding of what urban means or what
constitutes urban area is central to appreciating the phenomenon of urbanisation.
There are two view points:
2.1 URBAN AS AN ENTITY OR PLACE
Defining an urban area varies over time, across nations and within nations.
Specifically, what is urban in one country may not be urban elsewhere or indeed
may not have been urban just last year. For international comparisons, several
approaches are used:
(a) Population Size: an urban area is a settlement with a certain population
threshold which, due to contextual realities, varies from country to country:
E.g. Uganda has 200, Botswana has 500, Switzerland 10,000, and Japan 30, 000
(Dretcher & Lanquinta, 2002). There are also countries that use 50,000 as
minimum population size! In Malawi some documents by NSO (2010 vol.
9:46) make reference to 5000 population threshold. In some countries, density
is incorporated. Density may range between 400 and 1000 persons per km2
(McGranahan & Marcotullio, 2005). The definition is very easy to use but has
the problem of classifying a rural settlement as urban simply by adding a
single person.
(b) Economic base: an urban area is a settlement with a certain population size as
well as a defined economic base in terms of employment level defining the
livelihood of that population. E.g. India: a settlement must have 5000
minimum population at density 400/km2 and 75% of its adult male population
engaged in non rural based activities (agriculture, fishing, forestry) (Datta,
2006). NSO (2012, p. 65) defines non-farm activities as enterprises that provide
profit based income such as trading, manufacturing, transportation, social
services, construction, financial services, mining and quarrying. The
definition includes the economic structure dimension, but reveals gender
definition of employment and conceals the role of agro- based industries in
urban growth e.g. coffee processing in Mzuzu.
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(c) Administrative/legal/political basis: An urban area becomes such through
administrative, political or legal decisions by government. NSO (2009, p. 8)
defines urban areas as ‘the four cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba
and other urban areas, which consist of Bomas and gazetted town planning areas.’1
This definition makes policy interventions focussed, but reveals deep
contrasts between and within countries leading to difficulties of comparison
due to vagueness. For example, Neno (1649), Machinga (1220) and Likoma
(1352) are urban centres simply by virtue of being the location of a district
commissioner (Boma). The Physical Planning Department under its National
Physical Development Plan (NPDP) has a 6 tier level of urban settlements,
many of which are not gazetted. Strangely, NSO classifies some settlements as
urban that are not gazetted town planning areas2 while the gazetted town
planning area of Ntaja does not appear anywhere.3 NSO (2009, p.135) offers a
different definition within the same document: ‘all gazetted cities and town
planning areas.’
(d) Functionality: an urban area is a settlement of a certain population size and
functional integration of the built up or central area and its outlying areas as
reflected in journeys to work. In USA apart from defining an urban area in
terms of 2500 population thresholds, a functional ‘urbanised area’ of 50,000 is
used together with journeys to work of 15-25% to determine the real extent of
urban development without regard to political boundaries.4
Depending on their sizes (and political decisions as in Malawi), the urban areas
attain different names: towns, municipalities, cities, conurbations etc. However, a
distinction is made between a metropolitan area and an urban area the former referring
not only to the urban area, but also surrounding smaller urban areas or satellite
1 Confirmed by interviews with chief statistician on 7 February 2013. NSO also demarcate urban areas
based on gazetted boundaries while enumeration areas use ward boundaries as supplied by councils
2 Examples are Monkey Bay (10,749), Chipoka (3986), Ngabu (6976) and Mponela (9846). See NSo,
2000 (table 2).
3 In case of Mzuzu, the use by NSO (2009) of 48 km2 is contrary to gazetted Planning Area for Mzuzu
of 143.81 km2.
4US Census Bureau, 1995, ‘Urban and Rural definitions’ available at
http://www.census.gov/population/censusdata/urdef.txt accessed 25 March 2013
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towns5 as well as intervening rural land that is socio-economically connected to the
urban area in various ways including employment and transportation.
2.2 URBAN AS QUALITY
This is a subjective view and effect of the urban place on lifestyle of dwellers leading
to two aspects:
(a) Urbanism: a way of life or ‘urban mentality’ which is different from rural life
whose social and behavioural characteristics can extend across society
(Pacione, 2001: 67; Harvey, 1973). This occurs due to the cosmopolitan nature
of population and diversity in cultures valued (in terms of dressing, housing,
food etc) by a harmonious urban people.
(b) Modernity or modernisation- adoption of innovation and technology of
various types and forms leading to some complex transformation considered
better than the existing situation (Dretcher & Lanquinta, 2002).
It is worthy to mention that, just as the definition of urban area varies according to
institution. According to National Statistics Office (NSO), urban areas are
categorized on the basis of non-agricultural activity, population concentration and
the level of service delivery and a minimum total population of 5000 (NSO, 2010, p.
26; 38). This definition, though relying on, is different from, that generally used by
Physical Planning Department: which considers centres that are declared planning
areas and townships or have central place functions with regard to a hierarchy
adopted in 1987. For example, while by NSO definition Ngabu, Chipoka, Monkey
Bay and Mponela are urban, Physical Planning categorizes these as rural market
centres. As such, the number of urban centres in the country differs according to
which institutions define them. The general public on their part also have a different
idea as well. When someone living in Area 47 says ‘I am going to town, what s/he
means is that s/he is visiting a commercial area, which excludes other land uses like
residential area which would be referred to as ‘I am going home’.
Further confusion aroses from boundaries of urban areas. Sometimes the
administrative border may not coincide with the actual built up area (either over-
5 Therefore , Metropolitan Blantyre would include Mpemba, Bvumbwe, Lunzu and Chileka
Townships, Metropolitan Lilongwe would include Nathenje, Bunda, Lumbadzi; Metropolitan Mzuzu
would include Kavuzi and Ekwendeni
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bound or under bound) creating problems for the urban authority. For example,
Lilongwe City is in the group of over bound urban areas. With a total of 34,000
hectares6 , 21,646 ha (55%) is occupied by farming activities because its use remains
undetermined or rural. There is also 9316 ha (23.7%) of the land zoned for housing
but 1095.73 ha of this or 11.8% of all land is occupied by traditional villages
(KRI/Nippon, 2009). Blantyre City comprises 220 km2 but undertakes development
control over 228 km2 as it covers areas outside the official boundary along Zomba
road. Salima Town’s gazetted boundary is just 5km2 yet some of its council wards
fall outside this area.
2.3 CONCLUSION
It is quite clear that urban areas are defined differently in Malawi such that the
number of urban centres will differ according to which institution is concerned.
National Statistics Office (NSO) has fewer centres than Physical Planning
Department. (Section 8.2 refers). Confusion also arises when ‘rural centres’ are also
classified as ‘urban centres.’ To avoid further confusion and to ease targeting of
interventions, there is need to adopt a clear definition of an urban area and
urbanisation. Specific tools are also required in mapping the actual urban areas.
6 The National Statistical Office gives a figure of 456 square km or 45, 600 hectares. If figure of 456
square km is used, density becomes 1467 persons per square km. On this basis, density has increased
from 490 and 966 in 1987 and 1998 respectively. See NSO (2007, p.11) Welfare Monitoring Survey
Report, Zomba
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CHAPTER 3: URBANISATION TRENDS AND PATTERNS
3.1 URBANISATION TRENDS
The official urban population in Malawi is determined by the National Statistical
Office (NSO). The share of national population that resides in urban areas has
progressively increased over the years from a low of 3.5% in 19507 to 15.3% in 2008
(table 1 & figure 1 refer). The level of 15.3% is comparatively lower than many
countries in the region, e.g. Zambia, at 35% (NSO, 2010 Vol. 9, p. 38).
Table 1: Level of Urbanisation by Year
Years
National Pop.
Urban Pop.
% Urban Pop.
1966
4039583
260,000
6.0
1977
5547460
555,000
8.0
1987
7988507
857, 391
10.7
1998
9933868
1,435,436
14.4
2008
13,029,498
1,881,010
15.3
Source: NSO, 1994, 2010, 2012
7 Pacione, (2001:106)
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Figure 1: National-Urban Population Growth, 1966-2008
According to Kalipeni (1997), since socio-economic development is accompanied by
an increase in urbanisation, the low level of urbanisation in Malawi reflects the low
level of economic development or in the past, because the urbanisation which could
have increased the population of urban centres diverted to other countries where
nearly a quarter of the male labour force might have gone. Potts (1985) also
suggested the low level of urbanisation was a result of national investments that
would attract migrants, such as Malawi Cargo Centres, being located outside the
country.
The argument is made that urbanisation started to grow only with the curtailment of
paid international labour exports (Kalipeni, 1997). Worthy to note is that, if the
criteria of Physical Planning were used, the level of urbanisation at national, regional
and district levels would be higher as Physical Planning includes settlements that are
much smaller than 5,000 used by NSO.
There are two interesting features of the urbanisation trends. Firstly, most of the
urban population, 77 percent, was in four cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and
Mzuzu. That is, the four cities share of urban population was 12% of the national
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population while other urban centres accounted for only 3.3% (NSO, 2009 Main
Report: 8). In 1987 the proportion of the these small centres was only 2.6% (NSO,
1994:44), that is, a rise of 0.7% percentage points in 20 years! The disproportionate
share taken by these cities has persisted since independence at 77.7% in 1966, 76.1%
in 1977, and 75% in 1998 (Table 5 & 6 refer).
The second feature is the high rate of population growth in areas defined as urban
currently estimated at 5.2% per year (Zambia is 1.4%) compared to national
population growth of 2.8%. The growth rates in previous inter-censual periods were:
7.9% (1966), 4.3% (1977), 5.3% (1987) and 3.7% (1998) (NSO, 2010 Vol. 10.26). During
the periods national urban growth has always been lower than urban population
growth: 1966 (3.3%), 1977 (2.9%), 1987 (3.7%), 1998(2.0%) and 2008 (2.8%). (NSO,
2009 Main Report, p. 3; NSO, 1984, p. 26). A growth rate of above 5% per year would
suggest a doubling of the population in less than 20 years.
3.2 COMPARISON OF URBANISATION BY REGION
The spatial comparison by region and district is important as it can assist in
population redistribution interventions. However, the first challenge relates to how
to define a region. Just as we had challenges to define an urban area, defining
regions is also problematic. Is it political region / administrative or planning regions?
In pre independence era there were four political regions: North, centre, south and
lower shire provinces (NSO, 1984: 3). There are 39 political or administrative districts
(including cities, municipalities and townships) and three (3) regions. A fourth
political region, eastern region, is often mentioned but has not formally been adopted.
Reflecting the silo based planning approach in the country, there are various
planning regions. Well known planning regions are those adopted by Physical
Planning Department (north, centre, south-south and south-east), and Ministry of
Education (Divisions, zones), Ministry of Agriculture (Agriculture Development
Divisions, Rural Development Projects, Extension Planning Areas, clusters); local
government (Districts, Area Development Committees, Village Development
Committees) water boards (water supply areas) , Ministry of Health (referral
hospital, district hospital, rural hospital, dispensary, clinic and clusters) as defining
criteria for creation of planning zones. Other criteria in defining regions may be
geographic; hence we do have Lower Shire, Upper Shire, Kasungu Plains,
Lakeshore, Shire Highlands, and Karonga Basin among others. Despite that
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geographic regions are viable, the instititonally based planning regions, as expected,
do not coincide, and generally tend to relate to population density or land size or are
adopted for easy service delivery. As one would guess, the lack of uniformity in the
delineation of these planning regions implies that realisation of nucleated
settlements and urbanisation for effective targeting of investments may be
farfetched.
The comparison here is based on three political regions. The southern region has the
highest urban population followed by the central region. The lowest is the north
which has traditionally been net loser of population through out-migration not just
to other regions but also abroad (Dept of TCP, 1987, p.18; 23). The dominance of
southern region is due to concentration of infrastructure especially road networks as
these tend to influence urban growth (NSO (2010 Vol. 9, p.28) and also an historical
wage employment opportunities. The central region benefitted from the growth of
the capital city and the tobacco estates (Dept of TCP, 1987, p. 19). In others words,
equitable distribution of such infrastructure and other interventions would have the
positive impact on urban population redistribution. For example, the growing share
of urban population over the years taken by the centre, from 29.3% in 1977 to 41.5%
in 2008, is largely on this account (table 2 refers).
Table 2: Share of Urban Population by Region
Years
North
South
1977
9.5
61.2
1998
11.1
49.3
2008
12.0
46.5
Source: NSO, 2010; 1984:26; 1994
3.3 COMPARISON OF URBAN SETTLEMENTS
3.3.1 Population Growth
The patterns of growth among the urban areas have been changing over the years
(table 3 & figure 2 refer). Blantyre was for a long time the primate city8 of Malawi
8 A situation when the largest urban area in a country is at least double (usually several magnitudes
larger than) the second largest. In this case Blantyre was over five times larger than Zomba, the
Capital City. At the time Blantyre accounted for 74.3% of all industries in Malawi and only started to
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with 109,461 people in the 1966 compared to Zomba, then the second largest, with
only 19,666.
With the transfer of the capital city from Zomba to Lilongwe, Lilongwe started to
grow very rapidly from a population of merely 19,425 to nearly 100,000 in the
decade after independence. Growth rates of 7-10% were recorded. By 2008, Lilongwe
growing at 4.4% per year had overtaken Blantyre by about 7700 persons. Its
percentage population increase was 53%. Blantyre’s slow annual growth of 2.8% was
responsible for the small percentage change of only 32% in the 1998-2008 inter
censual period. Mzuzu saw its population rise from 8490 at independence to almost
doubling every inter censual period to nearly 133,000 in 2008. In the inter censual
period 1998-2008, Mzuzu growing at 4.4% annually, actually registered the highest
percentage growth of 54%. For all major urban centres, though these are high,
growth rates were higher in the 1966-77 inter censual period: Lilongwe at 7.3%,
Blantyre 6.5% and Mzuzu 6%. Respectively growth rates for 1977-87 were 9%, 4.2%,
10.6% and 5.9% (see Kalipeni, 1997). Zomba City, despite being the former capital
city and enjoying a sizeable but enviable physical infrastructure largely stagnated
and grew at only 1.9% per year. In the 1998-2008 periods, with a growth rate of 3%
per year, Zomba percentage change was only 34% (Table 4 refers)
Table 3: Population of Major Cities Compared
Year
Lilongwe
Blantyre
Zomba
Mzuzu
1966
19425
109,461
19,666
8490
1977
98718
219,011
24,234
16,108
1987
223,318
333,120
43, 250
44, 217
1998
440,471
502, 053
65,915
86,980
2008
674,448
661,444
88, 314
133,968
Source: Population and Housing Census Reports for various years, 1977, 1987, 1998, 2008,
IHS 2010/11
It is also noted that Lilongwe and Blantyre command a large share of national urban
population of abour 30% each but trends indicate progressive growth for Mzuzu and
decline for Zomba (Tables 5 & 6 refer).
decline when an industrial policy to relocate from Blantyre to Lilongwe was effected in 1970 (NPDP
Vol. 2:76).
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Figure 2: Comparison of City Population, 1966-2008
Table 4: City Population Growth Rate and Percentage Change, 1966-2008
City
1966-1977
1977-1987
1987-1998
1998-2008
1998-2008
% change
Lilongwe
15.9
8.5
6.4
4.4
53
Blantyre
6.5
4.3
3.8
2.8
32
Mzuzu
6.0
10.0
6.3
4.4
54
Zomba
1.9
6.0
3.9
3.0
34
Malawi
urban
7.6
4.3
5.3
5.2
31
Source: NSO, 2009:5
When making these comparisons, caution is required. Except for the 2008 census,
previous urban population enumerations were district based. For example, it was
unclear if ‘Blantyre urban’ meant population of Blantyre City alone or inclusive of
Chileka, Lunzu, Mpemba, Lirangwe or for Nkhokota Kota if it meant Nkhota kota
Boma plus Dwangwa. In other words, urban populations in previous inter censual
periods were exclusive of smaller centres within the districts. Can we claim that low
level of urbanisation is partly due to under counting?
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As can be noted the growth rates for Blantyre and Zomba are almost similar to the
national growth rate of 2.8% per year. It is also noted that growth rates gradually
decline over the years for each major city. The temptation would be to suggest that
rural development projects and the decentralised urban hierarchy have some
success.
Table 5: Share of National Population in Urban Areas, 1966-2008
City
Share of National Population
2008
1998
1987
1977
1966
Mzuzu
1.0
0.9
0.6
0.3
0.2
Lilongwe
5.2
4.4
2.8
1.8
0.5
Zomba
0.7
0.7
0.5
0.4
0.5
Blantyre
5.1
5.1
4.2
4.0
2.7
Total urban
15.3
14.4
10.7
8.5
5.0
Source: NSO, 2010 Main Report: 9; NSO, 1984
Table 6: Share of National Population in Urban Areas, 1966-2008
City
Share of urban population
2008
1998
1987
1977
1966
Mzuzu
6.7
5.0
5.2
3.4
4.2
Lilongwe
33.7
26.0
26.0
21.0
9.6
Zomba
4.4
5.0
5.0
5.0
9.7
Blantyre
33.0
39
38.9
46.5
54.2
Others
22.2
25
24.9
24.0
22.3
Source: NSO, 2010:20; NSO, 1984:26; UN Habitat, 2010:31
3.3.2 Urban Population Density
19 | P a g e
The population density of an urban area is a relationship of the total population to
its official land area. The density reflects growth in population due to natural
increase and migration. In absence of boundary changes, the higher the in-migration
and natural increase, the higher the density. Malawi’s urban density is generally
low and varying among the urban areas. The highest density is in Blantyre followed
by Mzuzu. Though NSO (2010:201) proposes that the low density of Lilongwe is due
to easy outward expansion of the informal settlements, the real cause is possibly its
large land area a large part of which remains undeveloped (19.2%) or only utilised
(23.5%) for agriculture (KRI / Nippon, 2010). None the less nearly all the councils
appear to have insatiable appetite for unjustifiable urban boundary extensions.
Examples of councils showing interest to extend boundaries are Lilongwe City,
Mzuzu City, Karonga Town, Nkhata Bay District, Balaka Town, Zomba City and
Blantyre City. The high urban density is considered less environmentally destructive
as contrasted with low density and urban sprawl in Malawi (see McGranahan &
Marcotullion, 2005).
Table 7: Population Density by Urban Area 1966- 2008
Year
Lilongwe
(456 Km2)
Blantyre
(220 Km2)9
Zomba
(39 Km2)
Mzuzu
(48 Km2)10
Pop
Density11
Pop
Density
Pop
Density
Pop
Density
1966
19425
43
109461
498
19666
504
8490
177
1977
98718
216
219011
996
24234
621
16108
336
1987
223318
490
333120
1514
43250
1109
44217
921
1998
440471
966
502053
2282
65915
1690
86980
1812
2008
669021
1479
661444
3007
87366
2264
133968
2791
Source: Lilongwe CDS, Phase 1, NSO, 2009:11
9 Blantyre City council uses 228 km2
10 Mzuzu City Council uses 143.8 km2
11 The density for Lilongwe would be higher if the land area (393.45km2) in Lilongwe City Council
publications were utilised. See KRI / Nippon, 2010:13
20 | P a g e
Figure 3: Popualtion density of major cities
3.4 CONCLUSION
The growth of urban population is quite high. There is increasing share of national
population shifting to urban areas. It is unclear if the level of 15.3% is a true
reflection of the actual situation considering the differences in the conceptualisation
of ‘urban area’ in the country. If the gazetted town planning areas and district
centres were a measure, the level of urbanisation could have been much higher, for
good or bad. Urban density is very low. This is also affected by boundary confusions
between institutions.
21 | P a g e
CHAPTER 4: DRIVERS OF URBANISATION
4.1 DRIVING FORCES FOR URBANIZATION
There are five main factors of urbanisation: natural increase by urban dwellers,
internal ruralurban migration, and international migration into urban areas,
reclassification and metropolitanisation (Dretcher & Lanquinta, 2002). In Malawi the
major factors or drivers of urbanisation are natural increase, rural-urban migration
and reclassification. The contribution of each of the factors is surely not the same.
4.1.1 RURAL URBAN MIGRATION
Ruralurban migration is considered the most important factor in urban population
growth not only in Malawi but also in many other countries to such an extent that
urbanisation is confused with rural-urban migration. According to integrated
household survey (NSO, 2012:19-20), 10 % of the population had moved from one
locality to another in past five years of the survey, but 54% of them had moved from
rural to urban areas while only 25% had moved from urban to rural areas. This trend
is different from previous years. Specifically, the 1987 census had found that in
terms of place of birth and enumeration, 9.1% migrated from rural to urban areas
while 38% had moved from urban to rural areas. This shows the growing
importance of ruralurban migration over the years.
The main drivers of such drift of population to urban areas can be classified as push
and pull factors. The push factors are largely problems associated with rural life
such as rural poverty, lack of alternative wage employment, declining productivity
of the soils due to constant tilling and population pressure on limited land areas as
well as ‘drudgery and boredom of rural areas’ (Kalipeni, 1997, see also Pacione, 2001:
466, NSO 2010:3). However, evidence of land pressure as a cause of out migration is
still elusive (Dept of TCP, 1987:24-25). The pull (attraction) factors of urban areas
include better services (such as better health care and education services), and the so
called bright lights (non economic factors). Others pull factors enumerated by
Kalipeni (1997) are benefits of modernity like ‘good housing, a car, a stereo and a
television set. The most important pull factor however is, as outlined in the Harris-
Todaro model, the anticipated potential of finding wage employment in urban areas
(Todaro, 1994) where, industrial and other investments by local and external
22 | P a g e
capitalists do require, what the Lewis model considers as surplus, labour from rural
areas (Hosseini, 2012).
The contribution of rural-urban migration is significant. Pacione (2001:72) found that
between 1975 and 1990, it contributed 54% to the growth of urban areas in 24
countries studied. Bhutan, Khan & Ahmed (2001) noted that though these migrants
to urban areas find problems to find jobs, when employed, they (60%) claim to enjoy
higher incomes and expenditure levels, better health services and sanitation, better
educational opportunities for their children, and better housing. These economic
and social advantages attract others to move.
In Malawi, the contribution of rural-urban migration is reflected in the high sex
ratios in urban areas over the years. As seen in box 1, the urban areas have more
males than females which points to rural-urban
migration favouring males. However, the declining
trends as per the 2008 census show that more
women are also shifting to urban areas. As noted by
the integrated household survey ruralurban
migration is also education level selective. The
average proportion of migrants for those with no
education is 6 percent but for those with tertiary
education is almost 31 percent (NSO, 2012:19). All
the major cities were net gainers of migration most
of them from rural areas. For example, in Blantyre 299,000 had come from rural
areas. Figures for other cities were 101,000 for Lilongwe, 18,000 for Mzuzu, and
41000 for Zomba (NSO, 2010 Vol. 3:17). Table 8 refers.
Table 8: Rural/ Urban Urban Migration in Malawi
Current
residence
Place of Previous Residence
Blantyre
Lilongwe
Mzuzu
Zomba
Rural Areas
Blantyre
-
14,000
2,000
7,000
299,000
Lilongwe
33,000
-
4,000
7,000
101,000
Mzuzu
4,000
4,000
-
1,000
18,000
Zomba
5,000
2,000
1,000
-
41,000
Rural
87,000
53,000
18,000
20,000
-
Source: NSO, 2010.Vol. 3:17
Box 1: Sex Ratio for Four
Cities
City
1998
2008
Mzuzu
106.4
100.6
Lilongwe
110.8
104.7
Zomba
106.9
102.7
Blantyre
109.9
103.4
Source: NSO, 2009:6-7
23 | P a g e
Rural urban migration trends vary over the years. At the 1987 census, while 3.4% of
life time migrants moved from rural to rural, 9.1% moved to urban areas with 38% of
migrants born in urban areas moving to rural areas (NSO, 1994: XXV). A decline by
7 % from 17% in 2005 to 10 % was recorded in 2011 (NSO, 2012:20).
It is appropriate to mention that though rural-urban migration dominated, two other
migration streams are noted. Firstly, migration to urban areas can also be from other
urban areas even though still low. For example, 33,000 people enumerated in
Lilongwe City were born in Blantyre City, 7000 were born in Zomba and 4000 were
born in Mzuzu City. Likewise, of those enumerated in Mzuzu City 4000 came from
Blantyre and 4000 from Lilongwe City (NSO, 2010 Vol .3 :17) Secondly, some
migration is from outside the country. Such migration to urban areas has not been
significant except in the 1960’s due to the return of migrants. For example, only 1%
of the migrants had moved from outside Malawi to urban areas at the time of the
integrated household survey in 2011 (NSO, 2012:19).
4.1.2 NATURAL INCREASE
Natural increase is the different between births and deaths. Literature in the 1960s
suggested that urban areas had lower natural increase than rural areas due to the
fact that better educated populations were expected to value family planning.
According to UN Habitat (2013, p.25), 67% of the countries in the world reported
they had implemented policies to reduce or reverse migration flows from rural to
urban areas despite that rural-urban migration was no longer a major cause of urban
growth. Natural increase was found to contribute 60% to urban population growth
while 20% was due to reclassification.
Dretcher & Lanquinta (2002) also confirm the high contribution of natural increase
and report that in some developing countries, natural increase is more important
than rural-urban migration. In the developing counties an estimated 60% of urban
growth between 1960 and 1990 was from natural increase and 40% from in-
migration from rural areas and the expansion of urban boundaries. However, these
numbers underestimate the true impact of rural-to-urban migration as in migrants
have higher fertility; hence the need to include this under migration. This is so
because migration is age selective. Natural increase is therefore a major contributor
of urban population growth.
24 | P a g e
Malawi has a young population with median age of only 17 and high national TFR
of 5.2 (NSO, 2009, p.12, 21). Mpando (2000) records a TFR (number of children a
woman in child bearing ages 15-49 can have before retiring) for urban areas of 4.5
(rural TFR =6.3) in the 2000 demographic and health survey. However, total fertility
rates of urban areas though lower than rural areas (in 2000 at 4.5 (see Mpando, 2000)
are very high. Although declining (from 7.0 in 1987 to 4.5), the total fertility creates a
high population momentum (potential growth due to natural increase) (NSO,
1994,p.21
The combined effect of migration and natural increase makes urban areas grow
faster than national or rural populations.
4.1.3 RECLASSIFICATION OF SETTLEMENTS
Reclassification arises in two ways:
(a) When the boundary of the urban area is extended making both the rural
land and population so annexed automatically become urban in the
process reducing the urban density. In this process rural settlements are
annexed and become urban villages that are informal and organic but not
illegal. Agriculture land belonging to such villagers, due to market forces,
is acquired for housing or other developments. Such settlements are
recognised in India as urban villages by Delhi Municipal Corporation Act,
1957. Their advantages are provision of low cost housing with little or not
development control and building by-laws (Risbud, 2002)
(b) Change in definition of urban area (as will be done under this exercise!)
makes rural centres become urban either on population increase or new
administrative decisions.
With an unregulated sprouting of settlements in the country, such a decision
immediately increases the level of urbanisation. For example, according to Dretcher
& Lanquinta, (2002), Dhaka’s population increased by 1 million in the 1980s, while
China’s urban population doubled between 1982 and 1989.
In Malawi the main driver of reclassification is tendency to develop horizontally at
low density rather than vertically. Furthermore, reluctance by developers to pay the
allegedly high (and many) development charges, ground rents, city rates, and
scrutiny fees whose cumulative cost may equal the house one intends to construct,
25 | P a g e
forces them to seek land in the peri-urban areas especially along major roads
radiating from the city. Since many developments take place in such areas, city
authorities tend to extend boundaries to capture such developers. In the process
urban authorities promote urban sprawl even when most of the land remains
undeveloped within the gazetted urban boundaries. This case is certainly the
rationale for proposals by nearly all urban councils to extend their boundaries.
Blantyre City underwent nine (9) boundary changes since 1909 (Manda, 1998).
Lilongwe City which is ideally too large for its population also plans to extend its
boundary. Others that plan to extend boundaries are Karonga Town, Mzuzu City,
Zomba City, Balaka Town, and Nkhata Bay Boma. Despite all these border changes,
existing land within the urban area remains overwhelmingly undeveloped. In
Lilongwe, for example, 19.2% is undeveloped while 23.5%% is only utilised for
unintended agriculture (KRI / Nippon, 2010). This situation is correct of all other
urban centres. 12 It is however difficult to calculate how much of the urban
population is contributed by the reclassification process. Based on The State of the
World Cities Report, reclassification may account for up to 20% of urban population
(UN Habitat, 2013:25).
4.2 FUTURE URBAN POPULATION
The projections by NSO have proved to be quite reliable. For instance, projections
based on 1987 census to 2007 were not remarkably different from the actual
population figures of 2008. Therefore projections by NSO are useful. The share of
national population living in urban areas was put at 15.3% in 2008. Though still low,
it is remarkably higher than the 1966 figure of only 6.4 per cent (260,000) out of the
national population of 4 million (UN Habitat, 2010,p.2). Based on the projections, it is
apparent that the four (4) main cities still have the largest share of urban population
unless circumstances in the smaller urban centres change significantly either via
natural resources related investment or affirmative policy direction. The main
driving force of urban population will remain ruralurban migration and population
momentum as understood from the sex ratio and large young population depicted
12 During discussion Mr Gotto, a JICA Consultant on Lilongwe City Plan, was surprised
with some areas which were considered part of the capital city when they were actually
pure villages.
26 | P a g e
by the population pyramid. Specifically 43.7% of the urban population are young
people within 10-29 years (NSO, 2012,p.10).
Table 9: Urban Population Projections 2010- 2030
City13
2010
2015
2020
2025
2030
Mzuzu
156,791
223,740
306,265
404,720
522,326
Lilongwe
768,012
1,037,294
1,365,724
1,749,564
2,200,362
Zomba
101,083
138,583
184,724
139,629
304,495
Blantyre
721,063
884,497
1,072,684
1,286, 866
1,531, 012
Malawi
3,102,000
-
5,240,000
-
8,395,000
Source: NSO, 2010: Population & Housing Census Analytical Report Vol. 7; UN Habitat,
2013:169
Projections show that the urban population will rise to about 50 per cent by 2050
(UN Habitat, 2010,p.2).Others, put the 2050 urban population at 32%, or doubling of
the current level (Population Action International, 2012). Lilongwe will have the
largest urban population by 2030 with 8.4% national share up from 5.2%. Lilongwe
city will grow at 4% per year thereby increasing three times over 22 years between
2008 and 2030. Blantyre will command a share of 5.8%, Mzuzu will have 2% and
Zomba will have 1.1% share of the national population (NSO, 2010(b), p. 33) (Table 9
& figure 4 refer)
13 Projected figures tend to differ. For example, UN Habitat (2013, p.162) has higher projections for
Blantyre: 2010 (856,000), 2015 (1103000); 2020 (1407000) and 2025(1766000) while for Lilongwe: 2010
(865,000); 2015 (1115000), 2020 (1422000) and 2025 (1784000). The other cities are excluded in the UN
Habitat report.
27 | P a g e
Figure 4: Projected Population for 4 Major Cities
4.3 CONCLUSION
Urbanisation, especially population growth in urban areas, is on the increase.
Without undermining the potential role of international migrants into urban centres,
the three major factors behind the trend are rural-urban migration, natural increase
and reclassification. However, there is considerable movement between urban
centres. Projections are that a doubling of the urban population is expected by 2050.
The rapid shift of population from rural areas to urban areas takes place despite
open government policy bias towards rural areas as reflected in the number of
projects and expenditure in rural areas as well as political rhetoric of ‘improving the
lives of majority rural people.’ The fear is that, unlike elsewhere, this is taking place
in absence of industrialisation or major job creating investments.
28 | P a g e
CHAPTER 5: URBANISATION AND DEVELOPMENT
5.1 URBANISATION AND DEVELOPMENT
The role of urbanisation in economic development is recognised globally because of
the experience of Western Europe after the industrial revolution. The link is usually
that there is industrialisation in
the middle of the equation, that
is, urbanisation will occur with
industrialisation which will
spur economic development
through capital investment
(Pacione, 2001, p.73). The
expectation is that the more
urbanised a country, the more
developed it becomes.
According to Drescher &
Laquinta (2002), the positive
outcomes relate to economies of
scale and concentration
resulting from the increased size
of the population and human
density. The high concentrations
of population lead to increased
social complexity and allow for
greater specialization in the
production of goods and
services while increased size
and density create efficiencies
for specialized markets and
institutional delivery of public
goods such as education and
transportation that are expected
to deliver social services
efficiently, thus reducing
poverty. In addition,
Box 2: Policy led Urbanisation in China
In China, urban areas account for 70% of GDP and
50% of its total industrial output. To achieve this,
China, reversed earlier anti urban policies .The new
policy promoted rural-urban migration after the
reforms commenced in 1978. The urbanisation
policies targeted specific, previously typically rural,
regions and small towns and supported them with
industrialisation. The policy direction was boosted by
foreign direct investment (FDI) in these areas, thereby
increasing job creation, productivity (of the readily
available labour pool) and economic growth. The Pearl
River Delta in south China is cited as a case. The region
benefitted from both government investment and FDI to the
extent that some cannot distinguish if the growth was
foreign or policy induced. What is clear is that it is closely
related to a deliberately strong urbanisation policy that
encouraged rural urban migration to selected areas that
were supported with industrialisation and physical
development. This led to high economic growth, averaging
10% per year that also attracted more investments. This
made the level of urbanisation grow from 26.4% in 1996 to
36.2% in 2000 to 51.3% in 2011. Cities of 1 million or more
increased from 13 in 1982 to 58 in 2007. China’s economic
success in so short a time, ‘is the most closely linked to
urbanisation and city formation’ See: McGranahan &
Martine, 2012; Zhang, 2002; Clement Miu: A Stronger
Pearl River Delta: Government Initiatives:
available http://accci.com.au/clement%20miu.pdf
seen 26 March 2013
29 | P a g e
concentration of population in few places relieves pressure on rural land and it is
possible to increase household agriculture productivity.
The important role of urbanisation is spelt out by Iimi (2005), who, in a study in East
Asia, found significant positive correlations between urbanisation and economic
development and suggested that for every 1% increase in urbanisation rate GDP per
capita, can rise by 2.71% making urbanisation the engine of economic growth. Iimi
(2005) also found positive aspects related to poverty reduction and suggested that
within urban areas 1% urbanisation rate increase would lead to 0.23% poverty rate
reduction while at national level poverty would be reduced by 0.34%.in other words,
the higher the urbanisation the lower the poverty, at national level, or urban or rural
areas. Tannerfeldt and Ljung (2006) have elaborated this clearly in their book: More
Urban-Less Poor.
In view of this, The State of the World Cities 2012/13 (UN Habitat, 2013,p.22, 55) has
focused on ‘prosperity of cities.’ Specifically the report outlines the role of urban
areas in development which can be realised if cities meet five conditions or are
supported with these five aspects:
i. Productivity through economic growth
ii. Consistent and targeted infrastructure development which is considered
the ‘bedrock of urban prosperity’ as it ‘provides the foundation on which
any city will thrive’ and attract investment (UN Habitat, 2013, p. 55).
iii. Promotion of quality of life through service delivery
iv. Promotion of equity and social inclusion
v. Environmental sustainabitlity
Box 3: Political Will in Rwanda
The urban population growth in Rwanda increased three times between 1991 and 2002 growing from 5.5% to
17%. The Government of Rwanda estimates that 30 % of the Rwandan population will be living in urban areas
by 2020. The president of Rwanda has adopted urban planning as a key strategy to stimulate economic
growth, heal social tensions and preserve the natural environment. Consequently, all planning strategies
in Rwanda are focussing on urban development as the way to achieve growth or poverty reduction. The
president, Paul Kagame, personally took the initiative for a new urban plan for Kigali after he was
inspired by city panorama from a high rise tower on a visit to Denver. During the visit, Kagame enlisted
the services of well known urban designers to prepare the Kigali Master Plan. A Singapore team joined in
for detailed planning. The final plan seeks to reposition Kigali as a regional centre for international
service firms with branches into neighbouring nations. The plan proposes to treble Kigali’s population. A
new airport is proposed to facilitate plan implementation. A notable feature is the intention to promote
walking rather than the car. However, Reading through the Master Plan Concept document, the ambitions
of the president and Government appear not in tandem with the widespread informality of Kigali and it is
feared negative route of evictions might be followed. See: Kigali Conceptual Master Plan, 2009; Ross
Sturley: Editorial:
http://umuvugizi.wordpress.com/rwandas-director-of-urban-planning-presents-a-clear-vision-for-the-
citys-commercial-future/ accessed 2-4-2013
30 | P a g e
To this extent a city prosperity index (CPI) has been developed whereby a city is
judged on how well it fairs with regard to the five conditions or criteria. Cities in
Malawi though making progress are generally failures on nearly all criteria. This
point is made in view of the fact that, though Malawi was excluded from the sample,
cities that feature poorly under CPI, are all comparatively (and indeed envied by
Malawians) much better on these criteria e.g. Harare, Addis Ababa, Lusaka, and Dar
es Salaam.
5.2 URBANISATION AND MALAWI DEVELOPMENT
There are various ways in which urbanisation is useful in national development of
Malawi. The Secondary Centres Development Programme has demonstrated that
investment in urban infrastructure and services lead to increased employment
opportunities. For example, it was found during monitoring activities that one
vendors shop in Taifa or Hardware Market in Mzuzu had between 2 and 5 formal
employees. A comparison between rural and urban fertility levels shows that urban
areas have a TFR of 4.5 while rural areas have TFR of 6.7 (Mpando, 2000). Though
both urban and rural areas showed trends of fertility decline, the decline is much
faster in urban areas by 18% compared to 3% in rural. In fact rural fertility was
observed to be higher at each age group than for urban areas. This is due to the fact
that urban women tend to limit child bearing and they start doing so at earlier ages
that rural women (Mpando, 2000).However, progress is slow because the belief in
the now discredited view that slowing urban growth and investineg in rural
development can spur growth. Evidence now exists that urbanisation and urban
investments spur both rural growth and national economic development (see World
Bank, 2008).
5.3 CONCLUSION
Urbanisation has positive linkages to development indicators be they economic or
social and it is considered a requirement for economic growth and evelopment of a
nation. Where this has been achieved, it has been through strong political will14 and
policy guidance tú support and promote urbanisation through industrialisation for
creation of various opportunities including jobs. There is need to identify
opportunities and potential areas of action to find the entry point to achieve the CPI
14 E.g in Rwanda.See: http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=10709&catid=227&typeid. Visited 26 March
2013
31 | P a g e
in Malawi. Targetting urban infrastructure, the bedrock of urban prosperity,’
appears to offer the greatest benefits
32 | P a g e
CHAPTER 6: URBANISATION AND POVERTY
6.1 POVERTY IN URBAN AREAS
The concepts of poverty and urban poverty require consensus. How poverty is defined
may help realise the consensus. In general poverty is seen in terms of income or
consumption (Wratten, 1995). The World Bank poverty line of $1 per day has become
adopted internationally since the 1990’s even though the figure of US$1.25 per day is
also mentioned (IFAD, 2011). The measure of $1 may sound little in many countries,
but in Malawi, one of the five poorest countries in the World, $1 converts to K400
(March 2013 rates) which implies an earning of or K12, 000 per month (K144, 000
annually). Very few can afford. According to NSO (2012, p.189-191) poverty is
defined as total annual per capita (food and non food) consumption of K37, 002
(while K22, 956 is ultra poor). Malawi’s definition is nearly one quarter of $1/day
poverty line! Even though NSO used the same definition for both urban and rural
areas, urban poverty is also spatially expressed in form of (lack of) access or
availability of services and infrastructure. As discussed below the general
expectation that urban areas would have higher income (or that urban residents are
non poor) may therefore not always be the case.
6.2 LEVEL OF URBAN POVERTY IN MALAWI
NSO (2012:193) acknowledged that though ‘poverty rates are informative they do
not tell us where most of the poor actually live.’ According to NSO, (2012.p. 190-194)
out of the national poverty rate of 50.7%15, 6% live in urban areas. In these urban
areas 17% of the population live in poverty (4.3% are ultra poor). Based on Welfare
Monitoring Survey reports, urban poverty has increased from 11% in 2007 to 13% in
2008 to 14% in 2009 (NSO, 2010,p.9).
At face value Malawi appears to make tremendous strides. In 1990, estimates
showed 65% of the urban population were poor (GoM, 1993,p.8) and 25% in 2004.
15 UNFPA puts national poverty at 60%. See State of the World’s Midwifery 2011, Malawi Country Profile.
http://www.unfpa.org/sowmy/resources/docs/country_info/profile/en_Malawi_SoWMy_Profile.pdf
seen 10 March 2013
33 | P a g e
Though declining, the figures are very high if taken together with the aspect of
access to services.
Among the urban areas there is variation (table 10 refers) with Lilongwe City having
22% of its population poor, Zomba (16%), Mzuzu (16%) and Blantyre (8%). The
spatial spread is that Blantyre has 2% of its population ultra poor, Mzuzu 2.1%,
Zomba 3% and Lilongwe 4.1%. Noteworthy in the NSO survey is the observation
that poverty declined, the ultra poor declining by 8% in Mzuzu from 10% in 2004/05
over six years. In Zomba decline was from 12% to 3%, Blantyre from 4.8% to 2% and
Lilongwe from 8.8% to 4.1%. It is unclear why these urban centres attained such
unprecedented progress. It can only be guessed that the definition of poverty itself,
especially which non food items are included in the assessment, is a major influence
on the scale of poverty (see Mitlin & Satterthwaite, 2013,p.15-16).
Obviously, the NSO definition excludes the spatial aspects related to access to
services and basic infrastructure in the measure. An argument might therefore be
risked that, the urban context (Mitlin & Satterthwaite, 2013:19), can generate or
exacerbate poverty, which ought to ‘mean human needs that are not met.’
Therefore the claim that only 7.5% (2005) and 4.3% (2011) of the urban population
can be ultra-poor is a gross underestimation of the situation. People living in
informal settlements without access to services can be considered living in poor
conditions or indeed are poor. In this regard, then the estimated 60-70% in major
cities living in low income or informal settlements or under slum conditions fall under
the category of poor (UN Habitat, 2011).
Table 10: Percentage Poverty in Major Cities
City
Poverty Level (2011)
Ultra Poor (2011)
Ultra Poor (2005)
Mzuzu
15.9
2.1
10.1
Lilongwe
22.3
4.1
8.8
Blantyre
7.516
2.0
4.8
Zomba
16.3
3.0
11.6
16 Schensul, et al, 2013, provide a figure of 24% poverty for Blantyre City.
34 | P a g e
Malawi
17
4.3
22.3
NSO, 2012:190-193
6.3 PROCESS OF URBANISATION OF POVERTY
According to IFAD (2011), despite improvements over the past 10 years that have
lifted more than 350 million rural people out of extreme poverty, global poverty
remains a massive and predominantly rural phenomenon with 70 per cent of the
developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor and living in rural areas.
Such alarmist statements gave hope, prior to and after independence, that in the
context of Lewis two sector model(Yokota & Islam, 2005 ), urbanisation would help
reduce poverty at national level with the labour shift from otherwise low productive
agriculture (rural) sector to highly productive modern industrial sector located in (or
inducing the growth of ) urban areas. Massive rural urban migration did and does
occur in Malawi as elsewhere. Such arguments justified the focus of development
projects in Malawi on the rural sector which were viewed as being deprived by
urban centres, hence the need to attract back or contain the poor in their rural
setting. As outlined in Harris-Todaro Model, urban life proved a mere illusion for
many migrants especially in poor countries as they never found the jobs that had
attracted them.
Alternatives were entering the informal sector where earnings were just enough for
survival, while, on the strength of a few that succeeded, keeping the hope of finding
wage employment alive (Fields, 2007). As such, instead of engaging in otherwise
urban activities, there is tendency for rural-urban migrants to engage in rural
activities in urban areas such as farming and traditional house construction
techniques. The tendency to directly transmit ‘rural poverty and backwardness to
the towns’ is also referred to as ruralisation of urban areas (see Bhutan, Khan &
Ahmed, 2001). It cannot be denied that there exists in urban areas a growing
population that is poor or engaged in otherwise rural activities. For example,
employment data shows that national urban unemployment was very low at 4.1%
yet 17% of urban dwellers were employed as mlimi (subsistence farmers) which was
higher than public service employment at 16.3% while 32.2% were self employed
and 2.3% were in ‘other’ jobs (NSO, Vol. 10, p.31, 46). Self employed and other
(34.5%), surely the other name for informal employment, was not significantly
different from public and private service combined (39.9%). As such, the urban
35 | P a g e
unemployment level is a gross underestimate. This would suggest the little impact of
urban areas on formal job creation. These processes are exacerbated by rapid
urbanisation that occurs in absence of industrialisation or investment in economic
activities that can create jobs.
As Amis (1995) argues, the real cause of urban poverty is not urbanisation per se, but
rather the lack of job opportunities:
‘.... it is the urban population who are without sources of employment / or income
who are the poorest and hardest hit .......[which ] is a function of labour markets rather
than urbanisation.....it is the process of proleterianization i.e. the extent to which an
individual’s subsistence depends upon a cash wage, that determines urban poverty
rather than anything associated with urbanisation.’
This view is shared by Mitlin & Satterthwaite (2013, p.30), who maintain that in
urban areas all goods and services like housing, water, and places to defecate,
transport must ‘be paid for.’17 Whatever the arguments on definition and
measurement of poverty, urban poverty appears to increase with increasing
urbanisation. Shabu (2010) therefore argues that, except in a few countries, there is a
weak link between urbanisation and economic development in poor countries, as
contrary to what happened in the now developed nations, it does not occur hand in
hand with economic growth, but rather with poverty. This situation can change if
urban areas themselves prosper.
6.4 CONCLUSION
From the above analysis, it can be said that urban poverty should not only be seen in
terms of income, but also in terms of outcomes of lack of income. Among others,
these include access to services (Amis, 1995). The urban problem of low income is
therefore exacerbated by, among others, denial of basic services (McGranahan et al
2009).
17 In Malawi this situation is satirised by Ben Mankhamba in his song: Moyo wa mu Tawuni
36 | P a g e
CHAPTER 7: INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES DELIVERY
7.1 URBANIZATION TRENDS AND SERVICES
As noted in previous chapters, there is mismatch between urban population growth
and the level of infrastructure and services provided. Evidence suggests poor
infrastructure has a serious bearing on productivity. A World Bank report indicates
that infrastructure constraints are responsible for about two-thirds of the
productivity handicap faced by Malawi’s firms (Foster & Shkaratan, 2010). Three
types of infrastructure services are highlighted here.
7.1.1 Road Networks
Nationwide, urban roads are largely earthen tracks. Where roads are available, they
tend to be narrow, and lack drains, cycle and walk ways (Figure 5 & 6). Maintenance
is also a challenge. Major roads are constructed and maintained by Roads Authority
(RA). Local roads are under local councils. However, although budgeting at RA
includes financing of local roads, local councils have no mandate or control to select
which roads to construct. Reference was made to how RA upgraded Chilambula
Road without consultation with Lilongwe City Council. In Blantyre, the council only
held about the expansion of Churchill Road in newspapers.
Government funds for road development on public land in urban areas are
controlled by Lands Department who collect development charges from developers
upon plot allocation. The funds are meant to provide infrastructure in housing,
commercial and industrial areas. However, the distribution of the funds is such that
Lilongwe and Blantyre have a lion’s share. Mzuzu and Zomba and other urban
centres, receive minimal or no funding. This is despite that the funds are
contributory from development charges paid by plot applicants. Stakeholders
expressed concern with the neglect of other centres in the country.
Whereas in Mzuzu only 20 km are tarred and in Zomba only 8 km, in Lilongwe 85%
of roads are paved and only 15% are gravel (UN Habitat, 2010, p.77) (Table 11
refers). In addition, intra urban inequity is very high with low density areas having
more roads tarred while traditional housing areas have only one ring road the rest
37 | P a g e
being gravel roads that require annual grading. A World Bank report suggests that
part of the main ‘road network was found to be over-engineered, meaning that
paving has been applied to roads with traffic volumes below the typical 300-vehicle-
per-day threshold’ (Foster & Shkaratan, 2010). Such a situation may also be reason
for failure to develop roads in other urban centres.
Figure 5: Chiputula Road, Mzuzu: No walkway, no cyle way
The quality of city roads is affected by irregular maintenance schedules and lack of
enforcement of heavy duty vehicles on light vehicle designated roads. Poor quality
of roads is contributory to high accident rates.
Traffic in the urban centres is not well regulated. On one hand, this is because of lack
of traffic regulation facilities like traffic lights, road signs and even road marking.
These are annihilated by the unresolved issue of uncontrolled street vending. On the
other, it is the road design. Most roads are too narrow or lack walk and cycle ways
(figure 5). With the increasing business of bicycle taxis, which largely serve the
majority in low income locations that have no vehicular access, conflicts between
modes of transport have become frequent (Manda, 2013). Within central areas,
bicycle taxis lack parking spaces and instead utilise any available open area. Street
corners are more preferred to target clients yet the most dangerous (figure 7 refers).
Council policies seeking to prevent bicycle taxi operations on allegations of causing
accidents appear to be poorly advised as available information indicates most of
accidents are caused by motor vehicles (Manda, 2013). Noteworthy as well is that
38 | P a g e
data collection on transportation emphasises ox carts and bicycles (See NSO, 2010,p.
33) without regard to the increasing vehicle ownership trends both at national and
local (urban) levels.
Table 11: Road Lengths by City
City
Tarred road
Tarred (main)
Earth
Total
Mzuzu
20.3
27.8
171.9
220
Zomba
8.5
10.0
160
178.5
Lilongwe
266
50 (est)
55
371
Blantyre18
83
30 (est)
357
470
Source: Consultations, January-March 2013
Figure 6: Vehicle stuck in mud water due to poor road condition and lack of drainage. Mzuzu City
18 Preliminary Study Report for Grant Aid Project-Blantyre City Roads, available at:
http://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/social_environmental/archive/grantaid/pdf/malawi02_01.pdf ;
seen 29 March 2013
39 | P a g e
Figure 7: Though Bicycle Taxis have become important, they lack parking space and route ways
(Kasungu Town)
7.1.2 Electricity Supply
According to GoM (2003,p.2), a country with low supply of modern energy like
electricity and coal cannot expect to industrialise and will instead rely on
unprocessed agriculture commodities. Unfortunately, this is Malawi’s predicament.
National power generation capacity stands at 286.7 megawatts against a growing
demand of 350-400 megawatts which is projected to reach 757 megawatts by 2020. In
fact, in 2012 there were beween 18,000 and 25,000 applicants that paid up but are not
connected. In terms of demand, 55% of the power is consumed in the south while the
north and centre command 45%. The overall figures of access to electricity given by
census reports and ESCOM during consultation differ. While the census report
indicates that national access to electricity is just 2% of the population, ESCOM
officially put the figure at between 6 and 7% at national level. Likewise, while the
census records total urban electricity access at 13.6%, ESCOM figures indicate access
of up to 45%.With regard to rural access; ESCOM put the figure at less than 1% while
the census records a higher figure of 1.2%.
Two issues come out here:
(a) Lack of consensus on the concept of ‘urban’ and,
(b) Due to low generation capacity, progress is too slow as basing on census
reports, access increased only by 0.35% in 10 years since 1998.
Consequently, the majority totalling 86% rely on firewood, charcoal or grass for
cooking a situation that has negative implications for the environment and health.
That is, it is a cause for deforestation and in door air pollution that affects health of
people (eye infections, chest infestions etc) expecially women as they are responsible
for most of the household cooking. Even in the major cities, electricity is used by
40 | P a g e
only 17% in Zomba, 16% in Blantyre, 15% in Lilongwe and 10% in Mzuzu (NSO,
2010 Vol. 6, p.27-29, NSO, 2010, p.18).
Most of the streets in urban areas lack street lighting thereby increasing security risk
which can increase violence against women. Of the small and medium centres, only
Kasungu has street lights. Street lights unfortunately are frequently vandalised by
thieves. In Lilongwe City all metal poles along the M1 were vandalised after 1994
elections. Replacement of metal with concrete poles has not resolved the challenge.
Thieves fell and break the poles to remove steel bars for fabrication. Lilongwe City
reportedly lost over K13 million through the malpractice.19 Motorists also appear to
target the poles across the country. Of interest is that where street lights are
available, they are rationed by street and by night!
The situation is expected to improve with the injection of $350.7 million from the
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of USA and signing of power
interconnection agreement with Mozambique in the first week of April 2013. Foreign
direct investment into the sector is expected to make a contribution. For example,
four companies are expected to commence coal power or hydropower stations to
generate up to 1235 mega watts. One of the four companies, China Gezhouba Group
has potential to generate 1000 mega watts but will in the first phase generate 300
mega watts using coal imported from Mozambique’s Moatize coal fields.20 If this
does happen, the current demand would have been met. The big question is: when?
A major concern in urban areas is construction of houses under distribution lines
some of them of high voltage largely resulting from allocation of plots from the desk
without field verification. The weakness is that ESCOM power way leaves are not
gazetted as required by law.
19 See: Christopher Jimu, ‘Street Lights Vandalism Costs LL City Council Millions’ Nation 3 April 2013
20 See: Kingsley Jassi, ‘Energy Sector Ropes in 4 Firms,’ Business Times, 3 April 2013. The other plants
are proposed to locate at Chipoka (120 mega watts), Bua River (40 mega watts) and Dwangwa River
(75 mega watts). All are expected to feed into the national powr grid
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Figure 8: Tsangano Turn Off- Mozambique side has street light using power from Malawi
(Mozambique every urban centre must have street lights)
7.1.3 Water and Sanitation
Water supply, like electricity, faces similar challenges of low coverage and
intermittent supply with many city residents relying on unprotected water sources.
At national level, the urban population with piped water inside house or on the plot
increased by only 0.3% from 36% in 1987 to 36.3% in 2008. The majority rely on
communal stand pipes: 42.5% in 1987, 36.5% in 1998 and 43.1% in 2008 (in 21 years!).
The rest of the urban population rely on unsafe sources such as streams and wells
(NSO, 2010, Vol. 6:18). Individual situation of urban centres reveals serious
disparities with Lilongwe having only 36% safe water access (table 12 refers).
However, as previously noted the boundary controversy may be contributory to the
reported figures. It should also be noted that the statistics do not include non
functional water points. Some areas within urban centres do not have piped water
supply despite falling within water supply areas. For example, in Dwangwa piped
water covers only half of the town making 56% of the population rely on boreholes
(Alma Consult, 2012).
Table 12: Water Situation (%) in Major Urban Centres
Town
IC
ICY
Safe water
access
CWP
UW
PW
BH
RS
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(IC+ICY)
Mzuzu
16
44
60
22
8
2
7
1
Lilongwe
15
21
36
43
6
7
7
0
Zomba
24
27
51
37
2
1
8
0
Blantyre
14
13
27
55
5
3
9
1
Karonga
14
37
51
35
1
1
11
0
Kasungu
17
36
53
37
1
2
6
0
Salima
10
25
35
22
5
8
26
3
Dedza
16
26
42
31
8
9
10
0
Balaka
14
28
42
37
0
1
20
0
Liwonde
13
26
39
20
5
3
27
5
Mangochi
10
29
39
47
1
1
7
0
Luchenza
14
21
35
9
0
1
55
0
Source: NSO (2010 Vol. 9:61) [IC=individual connection inside house; ICY=individual connection in yard;
CWP=communal water point/kiosk; UW=unprotected well; PW=protected well; BH=bore hole; R/S=river/stream/spring
With respect to sanitation, especially use of toilet facilities, flush, VIP, skyloo and
traditional pit latrines and open defecation form the ladder from good to poor so
that a shift from the poorest to a step higher on the ladder is considered access to
‘improved’ sanitation. On this basis UNICEF/WHO (2012:21) suggest that in Malawi
51% have improved access to sanitation, 33% share pit latrines, 8% have unimproved
toilet and 8% practice open defecation. This view of improved’ is questioned by
several authors.21 The major concern is both adequacy and quality as there is wide
spread use of traditional pit latrines and open defecation which has potential to
pollute water resources. For example, NSO (2000: xviii) reported that in 1998, 22% of
the urban population lacked any toilet facility or practised open defecation.
According to WSP (2007, p. 4), the reasons for open defecation include lack of toilet
availability, mindset and culture.22 If safe sanitation means use of flush toilets or pit
latrine derivatives that do not pollute ground water, we can state that Malawi’s
sanitation situation is very bad (table 13 refers) with most of urban households
relying on pit latrines. Karonga Town is perhaps a serious case because of frequent
urban floods, yet open defection (12%) and pit latrine use (72%) are very high. In
Salima Town, a bore hole operated by Central Region Water Board (CRWB) was
closed because of heavy faecal pollution resulting from wide spread use of pit
21 Manda , 2009; WHO/UNICEF, 2010:24, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water-Update,
22 WSP, 2007, Community led Total Sanitation in Rural Areas
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latrines and open defacation (Alma Consult, 2012). Of the major centres, only Zomba
shows better sanitation progress while Mzuzu actually lacks any sewer system and
relies on septic tanks.
Table 13: Urban Sanitation Situation (%)
Centre
Flush
Toilet
VIP
Traditional
Pit latrine
Open
Defecation)
Mzuzu
16
2
80
1
Lilongwe
15
2
80
2
Zomba
27
7
66
1
Blantyre
16
4
79
0
Karonga
10
6
72
12
Kasungu
13
5
81
1
Salima
10
7
80
3
Dedza
14
4
81
1
Balaka
10
6
80
3
Liwonde
14
2
80
5
Mangochi
10
5
83
1
Luchenza
13
4
82
2
Source: NSO, 2010 Vol. 9, p. 63-64
7.2 CONCLUSION
The low coverage of electricity, poor road network and meagre usage of water
borne sanitation and poor safe water access is an indicator of the failure of
urbanisation to live up to expectation in Malawi. This situation annihilates urban
poverty and can change if there is policy shift towards urban development.
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CHAPTER 8: SETTLEMENT HIERARCHY ASSESSMENT
8.1 RATIONALE OF URBAN HIERARCHY
In 1981 Malawi undertook a central place survey which led to the development of an
urbanisation strategy which was realised in the National Physical Development Plan
(NPDP) in 1987. The NPDP was famed as the first ever national policy in the country
(OPC, 1987, p.1). The basis for the hierarchy was a rejection of convergent theories
that propose that regional development may progressively trickle down or spread to
lagging areas and conviction with Friedman’s divergent arguments that regional
development tends to favour the core or rich regions at the expense of poor regions
(Dicken & Lloyd, 1990, p.240; Bradford & Kent, 1977, p.168; 176).
In the Malawi case, the south and the two major cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe
were the core. Coming from a serious regional imbalance resulting from colonial
development concentration in the south of the country, the main aim of the strategy
was to redistribute population diverting rural-urban migrants away from the
national centres of Blantyre and Lilongwe towards small and medium sized urban
centres and hence promote not only spread effects to the immediate hinterlands of
the centres, but also encourage inter urban interaction.
It was expected that, in so doing, both real and perceived problems of urban primacy
informal settlements and crime would be resolved. By attempting to redistribute
(decentralise or disperse) urban population and development projects, government
accepted the inevitability and perhaps also, necessity of urbanisation, but felt ‘that it
was easier to manage small and medium sized urban centres that are more or less evenly
distributed throughout the country than it is to manage exploding cities’ (Kalipeni, 1997).
This strategy, which became the de facto urbanisation policy for Malawi sought to
achieve balance and equity faster than envisaged under trickle down arguments. The
NPDP was also seen to support the policy direction enunciated in the Statement of
Development Policies (Devpol of 1971-80 and 1980-1991) of spreading the fruits of
development ‘as evenly as possible through all sections of the population and all parts of the
country’ (OPC, 1987:1). Consequently, a six (6) tier hierarchy of settlements was
45 | P a g e
developed. Since that time GoM has not undertaken a review study to appreciate the
successes and / or failures of strategy. The sections below may play this role.
8.2 NUMBER AND SIZE OF URBAN CENTRES
According to the NPDP, the total number of settlements based on the 6 tier
hierarchical system of national, regional, sub-regional, district / main market and
rural market centres was 112 (TCPD(1), 1987, p. 61,63). The list excluded an
unknown number of village centres which would be determined at the level of
district planning (table 14 and figure 9 refer). This categorisation was adopted by
NSO in the 2008 Population and Housing Census. However, NSO, despite also
claiming to have added six (6) centres to the list on the influence of Infrastructure
Services Project (ISP), utility providers and physical planners, lists only 89 centres
and, for unclear reasons, also used its own nomenclature of primary, secondary23
and other centres (NSO, 2010, p.26; 27).
Table 14: Categorisation of Urban Areas under NPDP
Level
Category
Number
Names
1
National centre
224
Lilongwe & Blantyre
2
Regional centre
1
Mzuzu
3
Sub regional centres
7
Karonga, Kasungu, Mangochi, Salima,
Liwonde,25 Bangula, Dedza
4
District/ main market
centres
22
All district centres (including Zomba city)
and 5 centres of Ntaja, Mponela,
Chintheche, Phalombe, Euthini &
Monkey Bay
5
Rural Market Centres
80
Examples are Ngabu, Luchenza,
Ekwendeni, Malomo
23 A mere adoption of the programme that supported the development of regional, sub regional and
rural market centres as part implementation of the NPDP. Other centres are not defined.
24 Without any explanation, NSO includes Zomba in this category, yet under NPDP, Zomba is on
Level 4.
25 NSO has a total of 5 centres which includes Nkhata Bay which under NPDP is a district centre and
excludes Liwonde, Bangula, Dedza, and Balaka. NSO also has 55 district /main market centres as
opposed to 80 in the NPDP. Chapter one of this report refers.
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6
Village centre
??
Dispersed across the country
Total
112
Source: OPC, 1987: NPDP Vol 1
Two things can be said of the hierarchy:
(a) The hierarchy implies that village and rural centres are also urban centres.
This is a contradiction, at least as per our definition in chapter one.
(b) There is confusion and lack of consensus on categorisation of centres in
Malawi.
These issues point to the need for a clear system of centre hierarchy agreeable and
usable by all institutions.
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Figure 9: Spatial spread of centres identified in NPDP
8.3 HAS DECENTRALISED URBANISATION STRATEGY WORKED?
The aim of the NPDP was to spread fruits of development ‘as evenly as possible
throughout all sections of the population and all parts of the country’ (GoM, 1987, p.1). An
analysis of the above statement, with regard to urban settlements, points to two
issues: ‘all sections of the population’ within an urban centre (emphasis added) and
‘all parts of the country’ in terms of distribution of settlements (emphasis added)
The first aspect on intra urban equity in service and infrastructure delivery has
already been mentioned. It suffices to mention that NPDP, despite being the de facto
urban policy, did not provide for equitable distribution of physical infrastructure
and services within urban settlements themselves. The appalling situation in low
income areas reflects such neglect and deprivation.
Regarding the second issue, NPDP called for de-congestion of Blantyre and
Lilongwe as a way to prevent challenges associated with urban primacy. It was also
meant to promote equity by decentralising or dispersing urbanisation (development)
benefits to others centres in the hierarchy.
However, the distribution of settlements across the country is uneven with the south
having the largest number of urban centres and the north having the lowest. Using
the criteria of NSO (2010,p. 27), out of the 89 centres listed, northern region has only
17 centres, the central region has 30 while southern region has 42 centres.
Consequently, the total absolute population that is defined as urban also varies by
region with the south (930,681) dominating, the centre coming second (832, 1130)
and the north last (240,515).
What is remarkable is that the levels of urbanisation at regional level are within the
national level of 15.3% and not significantly different between regions. Specifically,
whereas the level of urbanisation in the south was higher at 15.9%, the centre had
15.1% and the north had 14.1%. The trends for 1998 were respectively 15.3%, 14%
and 12.9% for the south, centre and north (NSO, 2010,p.39). These levels of
urbanisation indicate only slight change suggesting that urbanisation is very slow
with population increase of only 0.6% in the south, 1.1% in the centre and 1.2% in the
48 | P a g e
north. In other words, the claim that urbanisation is very rapid in Malawi may be
unfounded, as the population increase may also be due to natural increase and
frequent boundary changes (see also section 4.1.2).
With regard to population re-distribution, some progress has been made with nearly
all centres, except Chiradzulu and Machinga, changing their ranking in the hierarchy
(table 15 refers). While in the 1960s, Lilongwe and Mzuzu were small towns, these
have grown over the years to be major centres of Malawi. At the 2008 census,
Lilongwe was the largest urban centre while Mzuzu was the third largest in the
country. This has been due to declaration of Lilongwe as capital city in 1975 and
Mzuzu as city in 1985 followed by massive investments in Lilongwe and the
Secondary Centres Development Programme activities in Mzuzu.
The centres that benefitted from the SCDP grew very fast over the years at an
average of growth rate of 4.1% between 1998 and 2008, some of them, in the period
1987-2008 at growth rates of as high as 11.0% (Mangochi), 12.6% (Kasungu), 9.7%
(Mzuzu) and 8.1 % (Liwonde) per year (NSO, 2010,p.28, 45).
Furthermore except with Blantyre, the growth of Lilongwe during the same period
was exceptionally high at 9% per year. This suggests that the objective to
decentralise or redistribute population has been successful. Though Kalipeni argues
such growth was due to the ‘heavy emphasis placed on urban growth resulted in
unprecedented rural-urban migration and inevitably urban sprawl’ (Kalipeni, 1997),
the population growth in the centres other than Blantyre and Lilongwe may have
grown due to other factors, including possibly natural increase and boundary
changes. In fact, the share of the small and medium towns across the country
declined from 25% in 1998 to 22% in 2008, implying declining attraction of these
centres.
Specifically, it is difficult to attribute all such growth to the SCDP as some centres
that were not targeted also had high growth rates: Mchinji (14%), Thyolo (16.1%)
and Chitipa (8.7%). It is possible that such growth emanated from the focus of the
urban hierarchy to support rural development with emphasis on distribution of
services while being denied infrastructure that could support urban growth. In fact
though touted as implementation measure for the urban hierarchy, the SCDP (1985)
and RGCP (1978) commenced much earlier than the development of NPDP (1987)
itself.
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Nonetheless there is evidence that the primate city status of Blantyre (being five
times the size of Zomba) has been reduced as seen in the ranking of settlements.
There is also a tendency towards uniformity (Kalipeni, 1997, NSO, 2010). But, the
command of the four cities has remained despite government efforts to divert rural
urban migration stream. In 2008 census 41.4% of all migration was towards the four
cities (NSO, 2010 Vol. 3, p.11, 19). It can be said that any population redistribution
has been to the four centres rather than as envisaged. Pacione (2001, p.472-3)
suggests reluctance of industries and personnel to shift from large cities, insufficient
level of services, and limited employment created by decentralised industries, have
made small and medium centres mere stepping stones to the larger centres as the
migrants are not dissuaded from migrating to larger cities.
A point worth noting in the categorisation of centres was the unjustifiable
positioning of Zomba as a district centre when all criteria pointed to it being a
regional or national centre. Is it because there was no eastern political region or
Liwonde was being promoted at the expense of Zomba? Two other factors also
affected the urban system in NPDP. Firstly, politicisation in the location of national
projects which saw large projects that attract huge populations and would contribute
to city growth being diverted to villages of ruling presidents: Kamuzu Academy
away from Kasungu Town and MUST away from Lilongwe City. Secondly, lack of
support and changing economic circumstances led to decline of some and growth of
new urban centres in areas outside the hierarchy. For example, Bangula declined
because of the collapse of the Beira Transport Corridor following the destruction of
the rail road bridge at Chiromo and civil war in Mozambique. The M1 road by
passed some centes leading to their decline. Chisemphere lost to Nkhamenya while
Champhira lost to Jenda.
Whereas globally the majority of urban centres locate on the coast (McGranahan &
Marcotullio, 2005), in Malawi all major urban settlements are located in land.
Stakeholders observed that the failure of the decentralised urbanisation strategy was
partly due to inability of government to take advantage of the biggest single
resource, Lake Malawi, to promote urban development and job creation through
tourism. It was felt that tourism can create enough jobs and multiplier effects. As
such tourist regions identified in Lakeshore Physical Development Plan such North
Senga Bay, Chintheche, Mangochi and Cape MacLear ought to have been promoted
50 | P a g e
to grow into major urban areas.26 Existing infrastructure such as roads, water and
electricity would facilitate the decision and require only detailed land use planning.
These observations point to a major flaw in the system of cities devised by the
NPDP: the attempt to be seen to be regionally equitable at the expense of economic
viability.
Table 15: Urban Hierarchy: Shifts in Ranking 1966-2008
Urban centre
Rank
2008
Rank
1998
Rank
1987
Rank
1977
Rank
1966
Lilongwe
1
2
2
2
2
Blantyre
2
1
1
1
1
Mzuzu
3
3
3
4
5
Zomba
4
4
4
3
3
Mangochi
5
7
7
7
8
Karonga
6
5
5
5
4
Kasungu
7
6
9
8
9
Salima
8
8
10
14
11
Nkhota Kota
9
9
8
6
6
Liwonde
10
11
13
18
-
Balaka
11
13
12
10
14
Mzimba
12
15
14
12
10
Dedza
13
12
6
11
12
Nsanje
14
10
11
9
7
Thyolo
15
28
27
17
15
Mchinji
16
17
25
28
26
Rumphi
17
14
15
16
16
Mponela
18
19
22
20
20
Chitipa
19
24
23
23
24
Ntcheu
20
22
20
22
22
Mulanje
21
16
16
25
21
Mwanza
22
23
24
25
27
Monkey Bay
23
18
17
21
19
Nkhata Bay
24
20
18
15
18
26 See also, Gilbert Kapindu, ‘Lakeshore Urbanisation and Tourism’ Nation Newspaper, 29 July 2011. In
Chientheche local communities were relocated in 1975 for purposes of developing a Pulp-Paper Industrial and
Tourist Town that has not been realised 38 years later.
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Luchenza
25
21
19
19
17
Ntchisi
26
27
28
29
25
Ngabu
27
26
21
13
-
Dowa
28
29
29
27
23
Chikwawa
29
25
26
24
13
Chiradzulu
30
30
30
31
28
Machinga
31
32
31
30
29
Source: NSO, 2010 Vol.9, p. 45; Kalipeni, 1997.
8.3.1 Urban-Rural Linkages
One of the objectives of NPDP was promotion of urbanrural linkages through
spread or trickle down effects from the centres to the immediate hinterland, the
hinterland itself being determined by the size of the centre in the hierarchy.
According to migration trends observed in the 2008 census, rural urban linkages
appear to be strong. All major urban centres were net gainers on rural-urban
migration and gained significantly from most immediate hinterlands. For example,
while Mzuzu lost 25,491, it gained 77,730 migrants thereby having a net of 52,239
most of them coming from Mzimba.
In addition there may be daily linkages through journeys to work, shopping trips
and trading of agriculture produce. For example, Lilongwe City which is just under
700,000 is estimated to reach 1.3 million during day time27 on this account.
Furthermore, according to Pacione (2001, p.71) intermediate centres function as links
between larger cities and rural areas. It is observed however, that the regional
population shares in Malawi’s four major cities and distribution of central places
among the three regions suggest, according to NSO (2010, p.28) ‘potential rural-
urban functional linkage failures’ because there are few middle ranking towns
nationally while the north and centre are less urbanised. This affects rural-urban
services linkages. The low level of urbanisation in the north and centre is a result of
inadequate road infrastructure and transport which are seen as influencing the
growth of urban settlements. It is no surprise that distribution of urban employment
at regional level also favour the south. Therefore, ‘the skewed hierarchy and uneven
distribution of centres implies uneven and inefficient distribution of services to rural
27 Kulemeka, C, 2012, Unplanned Human Settlements Lessons from Lilongwe City, paper presented
at LEAD Pan African Session 2012, Golden Peacock Hotel, Lilongwe
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hinterland’ (NSO, 2010, p. 39). In other words, a working decentralised urban
hierarchy can contribute to effective rural-urban linkages.
Rural-urban linkages are also expressed through movements between urban and
rural areas by households who retain kinship and other networks. This so called
‘spatially stretching’ of households works as an economic and social safety net as
urban dwellers may import food from rural relations a common feature in many
countries, including China where a floating population of nearly 125 million exists
(UN Habitat, 2009, p.9; Dretcher & Lanquinta, 2002). Rural-urban linkages are also
observed when urban residents seek or engage in rural activities like farming as
additional sources of food or income through both rural and urban agriculture
practices.
8.3.2 Inter urban Linkages
Linkages between urban centres within the hierarchy can be determined from
migration between urban centres and transport linkages. The intensity of movement
to a centre would suggest its importance.
Migration between urban centres: The migration in terms of place of birth and
enumeration between urban centres in 1987 was 10.6% (NSO, 1994, p. XXV). By 2011
the figure had dropped slightly to 9.9% (NSO, 2012, p.20). Even though most of the
migration was from rural areas to the four cities, (41.4% of all migration was
towards the four cities) there was some movement between the cities themselves.
For example, though 299000 who migrated to Blantyre were from rural areas, 14,000
had come from Lilongwe, 7000 from Zomba and 2000 from Mzuzu City. The people
moved for family/marriage (24.5%), education (4.3%) business (6.2%) and other
reasons (13%). (NSO, 2010 Vol. 3, p.17)
Transport between centres: Transportation systems, especially buses move between the
major cities (Mzuzu-Lilongwe-Blantyre or Mzuzu-Lilongwe-Zomba and Blantyre).
Luxury buses and flights however operate between Lilongwe and Blantyre, perhaps
confirming the current designation of these centres as the only two national centres.
Other forms of transport can hardly be useful for analysis of inter urban linkages
because of availability in some and absence in others e.g. no railways in Mzuzu and
Zomba.
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8.4 CONCLUSION
The urban hierarchy and its objectives as enunciated in NPDP have not been as
successful as expected. National inter urban equity has not been realised with the
larger urban centres , contrary to the strategy, still growing rapidly and taking up a
disproportionately large share of national investments and urban population (75% in
1998 and 78% in 2008). Diversion of projects that would contribute to city growth to
villages of ruling presidents affected the urban system. The unwarranted emphasis
on rural development both in political rhetoric and funding diverted the main logic
of the hierarchy to redistribute urban population by focusing on the selected urban
settlements. Consequently, the NPDP focussed more on listing of the centres rather
than on how to develop them to attract, as well as retain, investors and migrants. No
resources were mobilised to develop the centres except the few that benefitted from
SCDP. In short, according to NSO (2010, p.37), ‘the plan has remained largely on paper.’
A 2005 presidential order to concentrate all national head offices in the capital went
full circle to counter the strategy either inadvertently or deliberately. There is need to
reconsider the focus so that the settlement hierarchy instead supports urbanisation
by revising the nomenclature of settlements in which the contradictory
categorisation of village centres as urban centres is excluded.
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CHAPTER 9: ADDRESSING URBANISATION PROBLEMS
9.1 URBAN CHALLENGE
As discussed in previous chapters, urbanisation in Malawi and other poor countries
has not been matched with infrastructure, housing and service delivery. Presently,
the majority, conservatively above 60%, of the urban population are estimated to live
in informal and other low income locations. As such governments across the globe
have always expressed displeasure with the rate of urbanisation and distribution of
settlements (cf. Todaro, 1994:251). With proliferation of informal settlements, it
became clear that urbanisation based on industrialisation had not succeeded and the
need arose to correct the situation. Different interventions have been attempted to
curtail or limit rural-urban migration or indeed to deal with urbanisation induced
problems within urban areas. Some of the approaches have been multi-objective at
urban level while others have been sectoral. Three such approaches can be noted in
Malawi:
i. Promotion of urbanisation in rural areas by implementing rural growth
centres project
ii. Promoting the growth of small and medium size urban centres as counter
magnets of rural-urban migration
iii. Improving housing delivery by lowering standards through several strategies
such as upgrading and sites and services.
The housing approach is dealt with under the housing chapter.
9.2 RURAL GROWTH CENTRES PROJECT
The RGCP was undertaken to promote urbanisation in rural areas in the belief this
would stop rural people shifting to large cities. The project commenced in 1978 with
German funding, (about $500, 000 in 1981 per centre) closed in 1991 and was
restarted in 2005. Though the real name ought to be rural service centres owing to
actually what was implemented, the government stated ambition was to foster
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growth rather than provide service (Ghambi, 1984). A pilot phase of ten centres28
was implemented in the hope at later stage a national programme would be
implemented. The actual projects included, among others, schools, small markets,
health centres, craft centres and infrastructure like feeder roads, water supply,
drainages, slaughter houses, workshops and staff houses. The project rationale was
to support successes recorded under the national rural development programme
(NRDP) implemented by establishing agriculture development divisions (ADDs) yet
farmers lacked centres where to sell produce or buy inputs and equipment. The
package of project was expected to spur multiplier effects especially in agriculture.
The criteria for selection were remoteness of the centre (40-60 km from district
centre).29 Each centre had a centre management committee to decide use of all locally
generated revenue, coordinate maintenance and submit reports to district
development committees. Monitoring reports were sent to University Malawi for
analysis as part of the project implementation framework arrangements.
The project can be credited with commencing urbanisation at the lowest level and it
created opportunities for small scale industries. Above all, it was the first time in
Malawi to implement an integrated and coordinated planning system which largely
informed the development of NPDP. According to Mlia and Kalua (1989), over all,
the RGCP contributed to improving rural livelihoods. The challenges faced included:
i. All the revenue generated at the centre was remitted to the district leading to
deterioration of infrastructure due to lack of maintenance, hence the centres
could not sustain themselves (Figure 10).
ii. Centre management committee decisions were reversed by district
committees leading to member frustration
iii. Dilemmas related to economic considerations versus social considerations in
site selection. Specifically, there was too much politicisation of the selection
process with each senior politician wanting the project in his area.
Owing to these reasons the donor withdrew the funding in 1991. Since the project
was restarted in 2005 three centres of Nthalire, Neno (again), and Nambuma
benefitted in the first cycle while in the second cycle six are under construction:
28 Bolero in Rumphi, Mbalachanda in Mzimba, Chikwina in Nkhata Bay, Likoma, Mkhota in
Kasungu, Lobi in Dedza, Makanjila in Mangochi, Tsangano in Ntcheu, and Thekerani in Thyolo. A
second phase implemented other centres like Mwansambo, Chapananga, etc
29 Bolera RGC was only 5km from Rumphi district centre!
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Jenda, Malomo, Monkey Bay, Mkanda, Chapananga (again) and Chitekesa. The
government earmarked K600 million30 and sourced donor support of $2.6m per
centre under the $22 million African Development Bank (AfDB) funded component
of Local Development Fund’s (LDF)31.
It remains to be seen how far these challenges will be resolved, and how far rural
people will be contained in rural areas. It is unclear why centres that benefited in
previous phases are still targeted in the restarted RGCP when there are nearly 80
centres requiring the project, thereby defeating one of the key objectives of rural
growth centres, that is, growth with equity. Furthermore, the project is championed
from rural development section of Ministry of Local Government despite its purpose
to promote urbanisation. The re-launched RGCP has intentions to promote
‘economic growth,’ like envisaged in 1978, but identification of ‘engines’ that can
foster such economic growth is elusive. There is hope in the selection criteria that
focuses now on centres that have ‘potential to grow’ rather than just those in remote
localities. A detailed evaluation study of the whole project and of individual centres
will be required on the extent to which the centres will contain rural-urban
migration.
Figure 10: Makanjira RGDP Market, 2005 Thekerani RGCP Market, 2005
9.3 SECONDARY CENTRES DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
The SCDP was implemented in Malawi since 1985 to promote the growth of small
and medium size urban centres as counter magnets of rural-urban migration. A
similar project targeting district centres failed to kick off due to lack of donor
30 http://www.sdnp.org.mw/budget-2011/votes-2011/Vote_120_-_Local_Government.pdf seen 28 March 2013
31 http://www.trademarksa.org/news/combating-urbanisation-through-growth-centres seen 28 March 2013
57 | P a g e
support. Learning from the experience of RGCP where lack of governance structures
was a cause for failure, secondary centres were those settlements that had a town
council or would be declared as such by government. Additional selection criteria
were centrality, hence, with exception of Luchenza, a centre qualified if it was a sub-
regional or regional centre on the hierarchy devised since 1981. The theoretical
justification was the new towns concept developed in Europe whose aim was to
relieve pressure off large cities. The policy was the acceptance of inevitability and
desirability of urbanisation, but that such growth need not all be in large cities.
In Malawi, secondary centres were existing urban centres that only needed planning,
and commensurate infrastructure and services to act as counter magnets to potential
rural-urban migration streams towards large cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre. A first
phase developed three centres of Mzuzu, Kasungu and Luchenza. By the closure of
the project in 2007, all sub regional centres (except Bangula whose place was taken
by Luchenza) were developed with stadiums, residential and commercial plots and
roads, slaughter houses, sewer disposal ponds, markets, bus stations, and industrial
plots (figure 11 refers). Also provided were equipment like tractors, trailers,
computers as well as manuals and valuation rolls were distributed.
Assessment reports of SCDP showed there was great impact in terms of satisfaction
except in Luchenza where local businessmen and communities were unhappy with
the development as they considered it an imposition. Looking at population figures
of the targeted centres, growth was significant. Table 16 refers.
Table 16: Population Growth in Secondary Centres
Centre
1987
1998
2008
Karonga
19,667
27,816
40,334
Mzuzu
44,217
87,030
133,968
Kasungu
11,591
26,137
39,640
Dedza
16,899
15,259
20,241
Liwonde
8,694
15,696
22,927
Balaka
9,081
14,298
22,733
Salima
10,606
20,355
27,852
Mangochi
14,758
27,055
39,575
Luchenza
4728
8825
10,896
Source: NSO, 2010 Main Report; NSO, 2010 Vol. 9.
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From the table it is observed that the population of most of the centres doubled
between 1987 and 1998. However, except in Mzuzu, Karonga, Kasungu and
Luchenza, this occurred before SCDP project implementation. The population
growth after the project appears to have decelerated in Salima, Liwonde and
Luchenza. Dedza only finalised its projects in 2007. The project contributed
significantly to achieving plan led urban development in the centres, most
importantly, in Mzuzu. However, it is difficult to suggest that population growth in
the other centres was a result of the projects. It is possible, for example, that growth
of Karonga was due to its position on the northern transport corridor.
Figure 11: SCDP: Balaka stadium, roads and drains
9.4 URBAN MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE
The management and governance of urban areas is a major issue that can help
resolve urban related problems. The Local Government Act and Decentralisation
Policy were formulated to promote effective management of local councils and
enhance governance in particular the participation of communities. To this extent
preparation of development plans including physical plans required endorsement of
communities. Likewise the approval process of such plans required councillors. The
requirement of councillors in plan approval is also provided for under the Town and
Country Planning Act. However, since multiparty democracy was re-introduced in
1994, councillor positions have been in place for one term. For the past 8 years
council elections have been shunned. In the place of councillors, Government
introduced Consultative Fora. While these fora helped in approving council plans,
they lacked legal and moral backing. A recent study found that 83% of respondents
needed councillors in the local governments and 93% actually wanted them
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reinstalled immediately to oversee the the executive at district level (IDASA,
undated: 27)
Related to absence of councillors was the decision to dissolve some town councils
and merging them with rural districts. However, these rural districts lack capacity
for managing and understanding of urban issues. According to consultations, the
decision made at political level contradicted proposals in the MLG&RD and lacked
consultation of relevant stakeholders such as Malawi Local Government Association
(MALGA) to which all councils are affiliated. The idea to dissolve town councils was
not an end itself, rather there was intention to start categorisation of urban councils
on the basis geographical size, population and level of economic development that
would guide establishment and promotion of centres from one level to another in a
continuum hierarchy. It is no surprise that centres that had strong linkages to
political leadership like Luchenza and Kasungu were saved from dissolution and
instead got promoted. Luchenza was the smallest gazetted town council where
residents officially rejected its establishment while the status of Kasungu as a sub
regional centre and population size was almost similar to three other centres
(Liwonde, Mangochi and Karonga) that were not considered.
The amendment of the law leading to imposition of two councillors per ward also
begged the question of how a council of two members would perform its duties. A
practical issue that also emerged was that debts owed by dissolved councils were
transferred to the merged councils thereby creating unnecessary burdens.
Within rural districts are several viable urban centres that have no management set
up. Dissolution of existing township worsened the predicament of such centres. A
possibility that was not explored was to mandate nearby experienced large urban
councils to manage these small towns (e.g. Mzuzu City would be mandated to
manage Ekwendeni). Altenatively, legally constituted centre management
committees (as under RGP) would have performed better that the prefered
consultative fora which meant staff working with selected personalities for policy,
legal and budget formulation yet without legal and moral backing.
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An issue worthy to mention is that urban centres that have no authority, lack
structures that can support their management. Specifically, while rural councils have
VDC, ADC, DEC, such structures do not exist in urban areas or even for urban
centres in the districts. It was also noted that among departments that have delayed
or shown reluctance to devolve was Physical Planning Department. Stakeholders
therefore were worried as to how the department would implement the NUP from a
centralised structure.
It can be pointed out that urban governance concerns are rarely in the media and so
do not attract the attention of political leaders and policy makers in government.
This is mainly because of absence of civil society in urban development planning
that can lobby government and development partners to implement programmes
and projects or even to correct the constitutional problem of absence of elected local
councils.
The above situation makes Malawi fair poorly in relation to the City Prosperity
Index (CPI) developed by UN Habitat to measure urban development in terms of
productivity, infrastructure, quality of life, equity and environmental sustainability.
According to UN Habitat (2013, p.136), urban prosperity can be achieved through
many ways among them urban planning and proper deployment of laws and
regulations to empower institutions.
9.5 CONCLUSION
Box 4: South Korea Secondary Cities: Seoul was the primate city dominating
employment and population. To bring equity, government introduced policy to
deconcentrate Seoul and develop secondary Cities. Several policies to slow down Seoul
and to divert migrants to other cities were: restricted new universities and high schools in
the capital, introduced financial incentives for industrial relocation, introduced
congestion charges on large industries & offices in the capital and funds raised were used
to develop infrastructure in secondary cities. A quota system was introduced for
allocating large industrial and university developments. Results were that though Seoul
continued to grow, it did so at reduced rate. By 1980, the urban structure had become
balanced. The number of cities of over 100,000 increased from 8 to 30 (Pacione, 2001:473)
61 | P a g e
The projects implemented in Malawi to bring urbanisation to rural areas or to
promote medium sized centres as counter magnates contributed significantly to
infrastructure and services delivery as well as realising plan led urban development.
As a policy it meant government acceptance of inevitability and desirability of
urbanisation. It is unclear if the projects prevented migration streams to large cities.
As noted by Pacione (2001, p.474) countries that succeeded in influencing migration
are those that have financial resources like South Korea (Box 5) and Malaysia or
have political muscle like China and Cuba. For less developed countries like Malawi
where resources are low and political systems unclear and political will absent, the
people will inevitably shift to large urban areas. The counter magnets need the real
magnets to achieve their objectives. In addition, Schensul et al (2013), suggest that
stalled decentralisation has negatively impacted the success of the strategy.
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CHAPTER 10: STATE OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
10.1 URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
The Vision 2020 intention is to manage the natural environment sustainably by
among others considering issues of climate change, mainstreaming the environment
in planning and enforcing building codes (National Economic Council, 2000:86).
However, urban environmental conditions are influenced by energy and
construction materials demand. As mentioned in previous chapters, low access to
electricity implies that many households must rely on charcoal and firewood for
cooking. Specifically, 85.2% of urban dwellers rely on charcoal and firewood.
Firewood is also demanded for firing bricks, the legal permanent construction
material. Construction using burnt bricks contributes to deforestation leading to
biodiversity loss, soil erosion and soil infertility. This can also impact climate change
related weather phenomena.
Demand for construction materials also leads to quarrying and sand mining in areas,
such as river banks and under bridges that can lead to hazards. Quarrying (mining)
as an industry was among the major employers with 58% self employed and 6.9%
in family business. Obviously this group includes those involved in quarry stone
and sand mining (See NSO, 2010 Vol. 10, p.41). The industry is unregulated. This of
course is not the fault of operators, but absence of relevant policies and regulations.
Demand for construction materials also affects the environment through brick
moulding which leaves sites with gullies and borrow pits which later act as waste
dumps and breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other disease vectors (Dept of
Env. Affairs, 2010, p.29).
10.2 URBAN WASTE MANAGEMENT
The urban environment is seen in relation to both natural and built environment.
Since most of the housing in urban areas is informal, the aesthetic beauty of the built
environment is affected through indiscriminate waste disposal, poor visibility of
unmanaged waste water, poor sanitation, erosion in the settlements, poor visual
appearance of construction materials such as grass/plastic cover and unkempt mud
walls (Dept of Env. Affairs, 2010, p.29). This situation arises because the
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environment is generally neglected in preparation and implementation of urban
plans. For example, none of urban centres has a conventional solid waste disposal
facility and the majority lack any sewerage system.
On average one urban resident is estimated to generate 0.5 kg per day. In some cities
the amount generated is more than others. Lilongwe City generates between 330 and
700 tones per day of solid waste but only 30% is collected (Lilongwe City Council,
2009, p.79). The rest of wastes are burnt, buried on plots or disposed along roads,
rivers and in sites formerly used as borrow pits for road constructions. Strange
enough is that when interested urban dwellers engage in waste collection business,
councils complain of interference in their mandate.32 The major challenge when there
is intent is shortage of equipment. Where waste skips are provided they are not
regularly collected due to shortage of skip carriers (figure 12 refers). Squatter areas
are losers because of lack of access roads. Since councils that have tractors and
attempt to collect waste have nowhere to dispose it, and due to lack of knowledge of
its implications, local people scramble for the waste to be disposed of in their
gardens as manure.
In Lilongwe a 25 hectare site for development of a conventional facility in 1993 has
only 5 hectares utilised because the rest is encroached. In Mzuzu waste vehicles have
to negotiate through houses to reach Mchengautuwa disposal site. According to
some stakeholders low prioritisation is the main reason for failure to develop
disposal facilities. A comparison was made with street lighting which is considered
more expensive than developing disposal facilities.
In the major cities, while Mzuzu lacks any central sewer system, the others only cater
for the minority of the population, most of them in the high income residential areas.
Consequently liquid wastes are sometimes disposed of openly in forests or farms of
willing farmers (e.g. Kasungu, Luchenza, and Balaka).
32 See for example, Bright Nyirongo, ‘Private garbage collectors mushroom in Lilongwe’ Nation on
Sunday 24 February 2013. The city council complained that it was wrong for any one to collect
garbage and charge a fee because ‘it is only the mandate of Lilongwe City Council to perform such
duties.’
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Figure 12: Unsorted Uncollected waste overflows a skip at Chemusa, Blantyre
10.3 URBAN CLIMATE VULNERABILITY
With increasing
urbanisation, the issue of
disaster risk and climate
vulnerability cannot be
ignored. In Malawi, as noted
in previous sections of the
report, the majority of urban
dwellers are in informal or
low income areas. Such
settlements share the
characteristics of location in
unsafe sites, use of low
quality materials for
building and poor access to
services such as water and
sanitation. As such in case of
major hazards like flooding, now a common feature of Karonga Town, the risk of
Box 5: Karonga Town Vulnerability
Karonga Town faces 4 major hazards. These are flooding, dry
spells, earthquake and strong winds. Flooding may be from
lake level rise as occurred in 1981 or when North Rukuru
over bursts its banks. Serious urban flooding has occurred
since 2009 for two reasons: (a) the 2009 earthquake destroyed
the dyke which pushes away any flood water. (b) Several
houses were built between the dyke and the river and in
artificial channels constructed to take flood water to the lake.
This renders occupants at risk to any water level rise. The
flooding is enhanced by wood energy demands that cause
deforestation upstream and poor quality houses. Widespread
use of pit latrines and open defecation can increase the risk of
water and saniation related diseases.
See Manda (2013); Schensul, et al (2013)
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water and sanitation related disease transmission is very high. Such settlements also
frequently suffer from impacts of strong winds and have little chance against earth
tremors. The earthquakes in Karonga damaged infrastrcutrue and many houses in
the town despite having its epicentre over 30km away (figure 13 refers).
Unfortunately, the threat of climate change is neglected in urban planning, housing
and construction both at national and city levels. It is noted that policy
recommendations on climate change do not recognise urban issues as emphasis is
placed on rural areas and rural activities. Mandate on vulnerability assessment in
cities is given to rural districts (See Schensul et al, 2013). For example, civil
protection committees now in existence across the country, are non existent in urban
areas.
Figure 13: Flood control dyke damaged by earthquak; Karonga Town Floods, 2009
Several initiatives are under way to address the challenge:
(a) The Department of Disaster Management (DoDMA) is reviewing the disaster
relief law to be in line with international trends that mainstream disaster in
policy and planning;
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(b) The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development is developing a Climate
Change Learning Strategy to build national capacity and awareness;
(c) The Physical Planning Department is working with UN Habitat on disaster
risk mapping,
(d) Lilongwe Univeristy of Agriculture and Natural Resources is developing a
Master of Science degree in climate change at Bunda College
(e) Mzuzu University developing a post graduate diploma curriculum for urban
disaster risk management and
(f) All districts are developing annual district disaster contingency plans.
Though all these are commendable, the initiatives suffer from the same
challenge of silo approaches and neglect of urban centres within districts.
10.4 CONCLUSION
The urban environment is a neglected sector in urban planning and development in
Malawi. Either waste management is not included in urban plans, or when provided
for in the plans, waste disposal facilities are not implemented. An emerging concern
relates to disater risks and climate related vulnerabilities.
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CHAPTER 11: URBAN HOUSING
11.1 HOUSING STOCK
The number of houses in urban Malawi in 2008 was 427,502 accommodating about 1,
881,010 persons with an average of 4.4 persons per household. The stock in 2008
shows there was an increase from 320,240 houses in 1998. With regard to housing,
though, the main issue of analysis is not numbers but quality of the