OVERVIEW: Human habitat

Environmental Management Framework

Development and the Environment

Soil and Land



Water Resources

Biological Diversity

Human Habitat

Climate Change

Human habitat

The Malawi population is growing at 3.2% per annum and is likely to double in the next twenty years. Rural-urban migration has increased in recent years with significant implications for housing and settlements, especially that the majority of the urban households settle in the informal sector and traditional housing areas (THAs). These areas often have little access to basic services and facilities essential to maintain a satisfactory and healthy living. Domestic and industrial waste are a growing phenomena affecting habitats and settlements.

The real cause of the housing problem is the growing poverty, such that people are unable to own or rent dissent housing. Most of the houses in rural areas are structurally unsafe, lack adequate ventilation and are a fire hazard to the inhabitants and their properties. If present trends continue, both the rural households and the shortage of rural housing will double in the next 10-15 years.

The excessive demand for housing is manifested in two ways. First, there has been a significant increase in the pace and volume of squatting in recent years and the escalation in the use of plots within the THAs for rental purposes, a function for which they were not originally designed. Second, the quality of rental housing in both unplanned and planned THAs is very poor and characterized by severe congestion and poor sanitation

Only a small percent of the population have access to safe sanitary facilities, and just over a third have access to safe drinking water, refuse collection and disposal services in the cities are Inadequate and so are the industrial waste disposal facilities. The recent outbreaks of cholera and related enteric diseases is a direct result of these poor sanitary conditions.


To mitigate these problems:

  • the new sanitation policy and legislation in the process of formulation under the framework of the environmental support programme (ESP), will need to be urgently finalised;

  • the capacity of local authorities to adequately deal with problems of wastes and sanitation needs to be strengthened by adequate resource allocations in the national budget;

  • the development of water and sanitation programmes needs to be harmonised, in order to mobilise more resources for sanitation efforts;

  • the private sector involvement in provision of quality housing facilities is required.

Contents | Foreword  | Acknowlegdements | Editorial Process
Contributors | Preface | Acronyms  | Overview
Chapters: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Appendix I
Lists: Maps | Figures | Tables | Boxes | References