1.1 Mandate

The Centre for Social Research (CSR) is an organ of the University of Malawi established in 1979 to conduct research in the social sciences. At the time of establishment, social science was narrowly defined. In accordance with the narrow definition, the objectives of the Centre were confined to the evaluation of UNICEF assisted projects and the training of Government personnel in monitoring and evaluation through seminars and workshops. However, as time passed, both the activities and mandate of the Centre broadened. The current functions of the CSR are to:

appraise, monitor and evaluate development activities in Malawi

undertake applied research so as to generate information on priority problems of the country and channel the information to policy makers and planners

train Government and other development agency personnel in monitoring, evaluation and research methods and techniques

promote and facilitate social science research within the University of Malawi

promote the efficient exchange of information and experiences within the fields of social sciences by organising local and regional conferences and seminars

collect and document information on social science research and general development in Malawi, and make these accessible to researchers in and outside Malawi

compile, publish and disseminate research and evaluation results.

1.2 Mission Statement

The current mission statement of the CSR is:

To conduct and promote excellence in academic and applied social science in partnership with the public and private sector so as to inform policy, and to offer training for capacity building.

1.3 Institutional Framework

The Centre for Social Research belongs to the Faculty of Social Science at Chancellor College. However, it operates as an autonomous institution within the University. It is governed by an Advisory Committee chaired by the Dean of the Faculty of Social Science. The committee’s membership includes: the heads of the five departments in the Faculty of Social Science, representatives from the National Research Council of Malawi, Bunda College (Rural Development Department), and Directors of the Demographic Unit, the Centre for Language Studies, and the Centre for Education Research and Training at Chancellor College.

1.4 Framework for Cooperation with other Research Institutions

Within the University of Malawi, CSR collaborates with the University Research Coordinator=s office and other research centres on matters of common interest such as research clearance and publications. The key internal partners are: the Centre for Education Research and Training (CERT), the Agricultural Policy Research Unit (APRU), and the Centre for Language Studies.

1.5 Activities of the Centre

The activities of CSR can be grouped into three categories: Research, Training and Teaching. Research includes both basic and applied aspects, while training centres on workshops/seminars and on-the-job training for planners and/or evaluation officers in Government, University and other development agencies. Until recently, training was through the Research Assistants Programme. Established in 1982, the programme aimed at providing practical on-the-job training for officers involved in planning and evaluation with the aim of building capacities, in participating organisations, to monitor and evaluate their own programmes. Due to financial constraints the Research Assistants Programme has since stopped. Training is now offered to institutions/agencies on request. In addition to research and training, researcher fellows at the Centre, as members of the faculty of social science at Chancellor College, are required to assist in teaching courses in their specialised academic areas.

1.5.1 Research

The CSR provides expertise in research design, implementation and data analysis to inform policy. The CSR=s four priority research areas are:

poverty and sustainable livelihoods

access to and management of natural resources

socio-cultural dimensions of public health

democracy and governance


1.5.2 Consultancy

The Centre has the capacity to undertake policy-oriented consultancy studies in order to satisfy client research information needs. Some of the recent consultancies the CSR successfully completed are:

Malawi Coping Strategies Survey

Baseline Study on Civic Education and Voter Apathy

Factors Explaining Rural Household Incomes with Recommendations for Aiding the Transition out of Poverty

National Safety Nets Programme

Patterns of Sexual Behaviour

Rapid Appraisal of In-Country Grain Stocks at Household and Commercial Levels

Conditions for Social Security in Malawi. A Panel Baseline Study to Derive Ideas for Social Security Policy Formulation

Malawi Police Public Perception Study

Starting from Strength: Working with Communities to Care for Orphans

1.5.3 Training

The CSR designs, implements and manages training programmes for the public and private sectors, NGOs, and individuals in order to build their capacity. Training programmes offered by the CSR include the following:

Introduction to Social Science Research

Introduction to Data Analysis and Report Writing

Introduction to Project Appraisal, monitoring and evaluation

Gender and Development

The training coordinator, in conjunction with the client, designs the courses. CSR Research Fellows are available to facilitate training programmes. Course duration and venue vary according to client needs.

1.5.4 Outreach

The Centre disseminates and promotes its work so as to inform policy and stimulate public debate. Some of the outreach activities include:

    Journal Publications, including Bwalo and Malawi Journal of Social Science

Bi-annual Development Forums

Newspaper Articles



Research Reports

Research Briefs

1.6 Visiting Research Fellowship Programme

The Visiting Research Fellowship Programme was established in 1981 to facilitate research in Malawi by external scholars. The Centre provides University affiliation to visiting researchers, and facilitates their research clearance by relevant authorities. Wherever necessary, it also provides a working base for the researcher, facilitates the acquisition of temporary work permits, and provides access to the University library and other facilities.


2.1 Background

The Centre for Social Research (CSR) is the apex social science research clearing house of the University of Malawi. It has produced over 200 research reports and papers since its establishment in 1979 ( see attached appendices) These reports and papers contain a great deal of information and provide answers to many policy and development questions.

In an attempt to strengthen the CSR=s research work, a review of its past work was undertaken in 1999. This was followed by a research priority setting workshop which aimed at identifying information gaps and generating research topics. The priority setting workshop secured the participation of all interested parties including faculty members from the five colleges of the University of Malawi, donors, development agencies, and government institutions.

The ideas emanating from the review process, the priorities workshop and those emanating from on-going work of the CSR now form the basis for the CSR's strategic research programme. This set up is expected to:

improve the quality and relevance of research in the CSR

contribute to the teaching of social science in the University

increase the credibility and utility of the University's social science research in the country

assist policy makers and development practitioners in government, NGO agencies, private sector, and the urban and rural communities to make informed decisions and implement sustainable development projects

2.2 CSR Research Priority Areas

The current research priority areas for the CSR are:

Sub-programme 1: DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE: Researchable areas in the transition to and consolidation of democracy. These include, among others:

Aid and democracy (conditionalities), comparison of democracy to other forms of government, civil service and public sector reforms, codes of practice for politics, ethnicity, capacity building for democracy, corruption and graft, crime, definition and conceptualisation of civil society, definition and concept of democracy, democracy vs. freedom, formal vs. informal processes on the transition to democracy, parliamentary and other elections and the relationships to the constituency, how Malawians understand democracy, instruments of democracy and processes of democratic awareness, socio-economic structures, contingent dynamics and rules and dynamics of democracy, political organizations (role of political parties), power decentralisation at the grass-root level (deconcentration vs. devolution), global and regional influences on democratic development, role of NGOs, media, military, organised religious groups, etc. in democracy, role of traditional institutions, the architecture of the modern Malawi state and separation of powers.


People's adaptive strategies that lead to sustainable livelihoods at national, district, household individual levels; design and management of macroeconomic reforms; financing of accumulation, credit, savings, state market relations, access to markets, livelihood resources and credit, and attracting domestic and foreign investment; budgetary transparency and corruption, aid and accumulation; cultural measures of wealth vs. measures of economic well being (GNP, GDP, per capita); effects of ESAPs on differentiation of access to resources; regional dynamics vs. sectoral concerns; socio-economic mobility; liberalization - producers, sellers, buyers; income generation, entrepreneurship and employment (women & men); corruption, "rent seeking" and mismanagement of natural resources; cross-border trade, contraband, drugs; population, agricultural development and the economy, and diversification, industrialization and technological development and comparative and competitive economic advantage in production and trade.

Sub-programme 3: HUMAN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT: Researchable areas include:

Work ethic and attitude; education - formal vs. vocational adult education and early child education; dynamics of gender relations, health, nutrition and epidemics; dynamics of the extended family system - AIDS and poverty, socialization - the family; witchcraft and social competition; cultural dimensions of poverty, epidemics; cultural resources for peace and development; effects of differential access to health care and services on health status; health policy influences on health status; traditional medicine; financing of health, education, social services; social capital development and influence on policy, public vs. private-provision of services; youth and generational change; language, ethnicity, religion vs. culture (conflict), and national identity.


Is an agrarian answer the only appropriate way out of poverty? Joint natural resources management; why land as a solution to all economic problems; land ownership structure; state policies in agriculture; labour relations in agriculture; migration and immigration; land use, population and attitudes to family planning, strategic land use and land use planning.

Sub-programme 5 ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: Researchable areas include:

Renewable energy and alternative renewable energy resources, joint natural resource management, relationships between income vs. resource degradation and poverty, management of open access and common property resources, environmental impact assessment and appraisal (public and private), pollution, public policy, environmental awareness and education, popular perception on environmental degradation, indigenous knowledge systems, donor programmes with policy influences, environment and environmental resources as free economic resources, alternative natural resources-based conflict management (ANRCM), alternative people-based natural resources management, gender, culture, religion and environmental resources and biodiversity.


Sub-programme 6 PARTICIPATORY/WISE DECISION MAKING: The researchable areas include:

Participation in citizenship; building bridges of partnership; participatory policy making and implementation of policies and programmes; multi-track communications.

In addition to the above areas, four cross-cutting issues have also been identified namely, gender, culture, and socio-economic mobility. Gender is integrated in all the sub-programmes, and forms the basis for programming.

The CSR is also interested in participating in research on poverty monitoring and the entire process of developing the Poverty Reduction Strategy.


Facilities at the Centre include:

Documentation Unit, with over 3,000 items

Computer Lab, with 13 terminals, 5 printers, e-mail and fax

Reprographic Unit, with 3 heavy duty photocopiers, duplicating machine and 2 binders

Transportation Unit, with 11 field vehicles and 3 office vehicles



Wycliffe Chilowa, Director, BSocSc Mlw, MA, PhD Essex.

Areas of interest: Food Policy (Food Production, Nutrition & Security), Poverty & Sustainable Livelihoods; The Impact of SAPs on various sectors of the economy; Housing; Health Policy; Social Policy; Monitoring & Evaluation of Projects & Programmes; Training in Social Science Research Methods; Conference/Workshop Facilitation, Water & Sanitation; Social Science & Immunization; Agricultural Economics


Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, Deputy Director, BsocSc Mlw, BsocSc Hons. Mlw, PhD, Queen’s Canada.

Areas of Interest: Democracy and Governance; Civil Society and Political Transformations; Human Rights Research; Conflict Management, Mediation & Resolution; Rural Transformations; Migrant Labour; Social Policy; Project/Program Evaluation and Monitoring; Baseline Research & Surveys; Conference & Workshop Organization & Facilitation; Training of Trainers; Proposal Writing; Assessment & Evaluation.


Charles C. Chunga, Assistant Director, (Adminstration and Finance) BA (Public Administration) Mlw

Areas of Interest: Monitoring & Evaluation of Small & Medium Scale Enterprises; Training in Business Management Skills & Credit Utilization; Conference & Workshop Organization; Organization Change & Development; Human Resource Management; Market Research Surveys; Monitoring Consumer Behaviour.


Thomas Bisika, Research Fellow, BSc Mlw. MA GU

Areas of Interest: Reproductive Health, Family Planning, HIV/AIDS, Water & Sanitation, Primary Health Care (PHC), Malaria Case Management & Prevention, Community Directed Treatment of Filariasis, Water Borne Diseases, Traditional Medicines and Indigenous Knowledge of Biodiversity, and Intergrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI)


Sidon E.T. Konyani, Research Fellow, BSocSc Mlw, Msc Southampton.

Areas of Interest: Agricultural Statistics, Poverty & Sustainable Livelihoods, Health & Nutrition, Training in Research Methods, Monitoring & Evaluation of Projects & Programs, Deeper analysis of all kinds of Data, Provision of Statistical input to pro-active research done by CSR and/or others.


James Milner, Research Fellow, BSocSC Mlw, MA (Development Economics) Williams College, Massachusetts, USA.

Areas of Interest: Natural Resource Management, Environmental Economics, Agricultural Economics, Sustainable Development & Livelihoods, Food Security & Nutrition; Poverty; Social Policy.


Alister Chaundumuka Munthali, Research Fellow, BSc, MSc Mlw.MA Amsterdam

Areas of Interest: Medical Anthropology; Prevention of Childhood Illnesses; AIDS/HIV; Implementing Orphan Care Programmes; Occupational Health Services; Environmental Management & Pollution Control


Peter Mathias Mvula, Research Fellow, Dip Theology Kachebere, BSocSc Mlw, MPS Cornell.

Areas of Interest : Statistical Methods; Research Design; International Nutrition problems, Policy & Programmes; National & International Food Economics; Food & Nutrition Policy; Consumer Behaviour; Gender Research; Food Security.


Landirani Chinyamunyamu Wa Kwizombe, Systems Analyst, Dip Comp.Sc, Cert UNIX DPD

Areas of Interest: IT & Management Consultancies; Internet & Web Site Development; Network Design & Installation, Data Analysis and Management, Training in Research Methods, Conference/Workshop Facilitation; Program Development & System Integration; Computer Engineering, Monitoring and Evaluation of Projects & Programs.


Ned Lawton, Research Fellow, BA Hons Dublin, MA Sussex, Cert d’e`tudes France

Areas of Interest: Democracy, Governance & Rule of Law, Human Rights, Refugee and Asylum Issues, Development & Overseas Aid, Conflict Resolution.


Nakatiwa G. Mulikita, Research Fellow, DSW Zam, BSW Zam, MA Hague Netherlands

Areas of Interest:Gender & Health, Gender & Media/Communication, Gender & Poverty, Gender & Social Policy, Population Information Education Communication & Materials Development, Training in Research Methods/Gender Research, Training in Participatory Research Methods, Workshop in Visualising in Participatory Process (VIPP), Workshop in Log Frame Analysis, Project & Programme Design, Monitoring & Evaluation.


Maxton Grant Tsoka, Research Fellow, BSocSc Mlw, MA Venderbilt.

Areas of Interest : Public Policy, Poverty Analysis, Safety Nets, Public Expenditure and its Impact.


Brenda M. Gallaher, Research Fellow, BA, H.Dip.Ed, Galway, DBS, PhD., Dublin.

Areas of Interest: Tourism; Recreation & Leisure; Natural Resource Management & Sustainability; Environmental Degradation; Poverty & Health; Carrying Capacity & Population Issues; Sustainable Development & External Monetary Funding; Education; Gender, Culture & Religion; Training in Research Methods; Survey & Questionnaire Design & Implementation.