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«Author/Lead Researcher: Nora Lindstrom Data Analysis: Dr. Boran Altincicek Research Assistants: H.W. Mamba, Margaret Chalimera, Gertrude Mangata, ...»

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Survey of Urban Poor Settlements in Lilongwe 2014

Author/Lead Researcher: Nora Lindstrom

Data Analysis: Dr. Boran Altincicek

Research Assistants: H.W. Mamba,

Margaret Chalimera, Gertrude Mangata,

Lebiam Maston, Anderson Chitani,

Patricia Banda, Baut Phiri, Yusuf Meya

This research study was made possible through funds from the People 4 Change programme funded by ActionAid Denmark.

1 Survey of Urban Poor Settlements in Lilongwe 2014


In a rapidly urbanizing world, Malawi remains one of the least urbanized countries in Africa.

Nevertheless, it has not escaped the challenges posed by the phenomenon. Malawi’s capital Lilongwe is estimated to be growing at a rate of 4.3% per year, and has even been projected to break the one million population mark as early as 2015.

The benefits of urban citizenship are however not enjoyed equally by Lilongwe’s residents. As many as 76% of residents are estimated to live in sub-standard housing and/or informal settlements. These areas are characterized by lack of access to public services, tenure insecurity, and inadequate housing. A quarter of the city’s residents are also officially estimated to live below the poverty line, with 9% considered ultra-poor.

In mid-2014 the Lilongwe Urban Poor People’s Network (LUPPEN) and ActionAid Malawi conducted a survey of 33 settlements in Lilongwe in which LUPPEN is active. The objective of the study was to assess the current level of access to public services and participation in urban governance in the settlements, and complement existing studies by providing up-to-date data on key indicators as well as statistical analysis across settlements. The survey covered seven key topics: Governance, leadership, and institutions; History and demographics; Land tenure and eviction threats; Access to public services;

Settlement assets, security, and social capital; Hazards and risks; and The future.

Overall, the study found that Lilongwe City is failing the residents of its poor settlements. However, the study also revealed heterogeneity among the settlements surveyed, with a handful of settlements displaying more ‘urban’ characteristics and thereby higher living standards, while a third are best described as rural. Roughly half of the settlements are at some level of transition from urban to rural, displaying differing levels of formality and access to public services. To allow for comparisons across groups, each settlement was graded on a ten-point scale and consequently categorized as Rural (33%), Transitional-2 (33%), Transitional-1 (15%) or Urban (18%).

While the study was unable to collect reliable data on settlements’ population sizes, a concentration of poverty in the north of the city was identified. Not only were 64% of settlements surveyed found to be located in northern T/A Chitukula, but 71% of settlements in the Traditional Authority fell into the categories Rural and Transitional-2, implying high informality and limited access to services.

The study also found that city’s poor settlements appear to be growing. Respondents in 82% of the settlements indicated that there has been a substantial increase in the population of their settlement over the past five years, while 18% indicated that there had been a small increase. Not a single settlement stated that the population had either decreased or remained the same.

Residents in the settlements face several challenges. The most common challenge cited by respondents in the settlements surveyed was access to public services (57.5%), followed by economic challenges (28%). Overall, accessing health care was cited a problem in 80% of the settlements surveyed. Access to water remains a challenge in almost half of the settlements, despite there being access to water from the Lilongwe Water Board in 85% of the settlements. Access to finance (or capital) is a challenge in 70% of the settlements, while unemployment is a problem in half of the settlements surveyed.

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The survey found that customary land management remains common in Lilongwe. Chiefs play a direct role in land management in roughly half of the settlements by either selling or allocating land. Data analysis found that the age of a settlement increases the likelihood that land in the settlement is managed in a customary fashion. Customary land management is also strongly correlated with residents lacking tenure security documentation.

Similarly, a settlement being unplanned is strongly correlated with lack of tenure security documentation. Transect walks through each settlement surveyed determined that 27% of settlements are planned, while 9% are partly planned. The majority (64%) of the settlements surveyed are unplanned. Despite prevailing tenure insecurity, evictions are currently not a major concern; only five settlements (15%) reported more substantive eviction threats/fears.

Residents are divided between home owners and tenants in 30 of the settlements surveyed. In the majority (64%) of settlements with tenants, over 50% of the population is estimated to rent their homes. Monthly rents for a basic room are around 2,000 Malawi kwacha lower in unplanned settlements compared to planned settlements.

The aim of this report is to let the data speak for itself. On the whole, however, it is clear that residents of Lilongwe’s poor settlements face enduring challenges and indignities in their daily lives. This sounds a warning for the future. The strong population growth experienced by Lilongwe puts pressure on the

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city’s managers and available resources, and means that the challenges highlighted in this report will grow in magnitude unless prompt and concerted action is taken.

There are two main dimensions for what action is needed. On the one hand, the government must work with residents in existing poor settlements to develop participatory, community-led upgrading processes. On the other, it must at the same time expedite allocation of affordable, serviced land for newcomers, to prevent the development of entrenched problem areas in the city. The bottom line for the city is that only by embracing urbanization and the government taking pro-poor measures to manage urban growth will Lilongwe develop into an equitable city for all.

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CONTENTS Executive Summary

List of Figures

1. Introduction

2. Research Objectives and Methodology

2.1 Objectives

2.2 Group definition and sample size

2.3 Survey development and implementation

2.4 Research ethics

2.5 Ensuring data quality

2.6 Limitations

2.6.1 Sample size

2.6.2 Survey level

2.6.3 Representation

2.6.4 Response and recall bias

2.6.5 Lack of double data entry

2.6.6 Learning-by-doing

3. Location of Settlements

4. Settlement Typology

5. Governance

6. Population, Land, and Tenure Security

6.1 Age of settlements

6.2 Population change

6.3 Land ownership and management

6.4 Tenure security

6.5 Owners vs renters

6.6 Housing type

7. Access to Public Services

7.1 Access to water

7.2 Light and access to electricity

7.3 Waste management and sanitation

7.4 Access route

7.5 Overall service availability

8. Social and Financial capital

8.1 Access to finance

8.2 Levels of social capital

9. Hazards, Challenges and Priorities

9.1 Environmental hazards

9.2 Social problems

9.3 Challenges

9.4 Priorities

10. Conclusion

11. List of Settlements

12. Bibliography

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Figure 1 Settlements surveyed by type

Figure 2 Date of settlement establishment

Figure 3 Settlement lay-out type (percentage)

Figure 4 Percentage of settlements with some level of eviction threat

Figure 5 Perceived level of eviction threat

Figure 6 Number of settlements with the indicated percentage of renters

Figure 7 Average rent in the settlements surveyed

Figure 8 Percentage of settlements accessing water through the identified sources

Figure 9 Percentage of settlements using the identified source of light

Figure 10 Percentage of settlements with access to waste disposal by Lilongwe City Council................. 28 Figure 11 Most common means of waste disposal in the settlements surveyed

Figure 12 Percentage of settlements with ready access to the identified service

Figure 13 Levels of trust in settlements surveyed

Figure 14 Sense of security in settlements surveyed

Figure 15 Percentage of settlements affected by the specified environmental hazard

Figure 16 Prevalence of social problems in settlements surveyed

Figure 17 Most common types of challenges faced in the settlements surveyed

Figure 18 Prevalence of economic challenges faced by settlements surveyed

Figure 19 Prevalence of challenges in accessing public services in settlements surveyed

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By mid-2014, half of the world’s population was living in cities. While Malawi’s urban population remains low at around 20%, strong urban growth is taking place the country’s four key cities, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu, and Zomba. As the capital, Lilongwe is the fastest growing city in the country; by 2020 Lilongwe is projected to have over 1.3 million residents, representing a doubling of the population from the most recent population census conducted in 2008.1 Much of the population growth in Lilongwe is projected to occur in the city’s poor settlements, often also referred to as informal areas. While the city as a whole is expected to grow at around 4-5% per year, population growth in informal settlements is projected at over 8%.2 The challenges presented by such growth have not gone unrecognized. In his foreword to the 2011 Lilongwe Urban Profile, then

Lilongwe City Council Chief Executive H.K. Mangisa writes:

“The city is … faced with the need to properly plan for the rapid urban population growth in order to lessen or mitigate the negative impacts that lack of forward planning for rapid urbanization would bring.

At the same time, the city is faced with the challenge of providing shelter and basic urban services to its existing population.” Mr Mangisa then goes on to argue that “[t]o provide the necessary and appropriate intervention measures, there was need to first of all have an understanding of the issues facing the city.” While the Lilongwe Urban Profile provides a useful overview of key aspects of the city as a whole, this report zeroes in on living standards in Lilongwe’s poor areas. Through analysis of survey data collected in 33 poor settlements in Lilongwe, this report aims to contribute to better understanding of the issues facing the city’s poor residents so that the necessary and appropriate intervention measures can be designed and implemented.

It is the intention of the Research Team to let the data collected speak for itself. To this end, data in the report is presented roughly following the sections of the original survey form. Section 4 of the report shows the physical location of each settlement based on geo-data collected during the survey. Section 5 groups the settlements into four categories to allow for better appreciation of the heterogeneity of the settlements surveyed. The following section briefly looks at issues of governance, while Section 7 provides comprehensive data on issues surrounding population, land, and tenure security. Section 8 outlines access to basic public services in the settlements surveyed. The following section presents data related to social and financial capital in the settlements. The last section outlines hazards, challenges, and priorities in the settlements. Following a brief conclusion in Section 11, a list of all settlements surveyed is provided.

Finally, a note on terminology. This report deals exclusively with settlements located in Lilongwe City, not Lilongwe District. As such, any reference to Lilongwe is a reference to the city, not the surrounding district bearing the same name. Also, it should be noted that data for this report was collected at the settlement, not household level.

1 National Statistical Office of Malawi (2009) Population and Housing Census 2008, Main Report 2 UN-Habitat (2011) Malawi: Lilongwe Urban Profile

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2.1 OBJECTIVES The objective of the study is to assess the current level of access to public services and participation in urban governance in the 33 urban poor settlements in which LUPPEN operates. The study complements existing studies3, by providing up-to-date data on key indicators as well as statistical analysis across

settlements. Specific objectives are as follows:

 To collect socio-economic data from 33 urban poor settlements in which LUPPEN operates in order to create a baseline on access to public services and participation in urban governance in these settlements,  To use the baseline to design future interventions which may improve access to public services and participation in urban governance in the target settlements,  To use the baseline to monitor and assess the changes and impacts following the interventions, and  To strengthen LUPPEN Executive Committee’s ability to collect and maintain documentation about their member settlements, as well as analyse data


Thirty-three settlements located in the Lilongwe City are in included in this survey. The settlements were selected on the basis of two characteristics: 1) there is a LUPPEN local committee in the settlement and

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