OP Report 2010

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  United Nations Human Settlements Programme's

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 Current UN-HABITAT support to Malawi

      • Cities Without Slums Programme

      • Malawi National Slum Upgrading Programme

      • Managing HIV & AIDS at the local level          programme

      • Malawi National Housing Policy

      • Malawi Award for Human Settlements (MAHS)

 Future Activities and Events

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme’s (UN-HABITAT) mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable urban development with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.

The Urbanisation challenge
The global urbanization challenge
The year 2007 has marked a turning point in human history: the world’s urban population has for the first time equaled the world’s rural population¹. This heralds the advent of a new urban millennium: a time when one out of every two people on the planet will be a ‘city-zen’.

Cities are the hubs of much national production and consumption – economic and social processes that generate wealth and opportunity. But they also create disease, crime, pollution, poverty and social unrest. In many cities, especially in developing countries including Malawi, slum dwellers number more than 50 per cent of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water and sanitation, education or health services.

The Malawi urbanization challenge
Only twenty percent of Malawi’s population is classified as urban, making the country one of the least urbanized countries in Africa. However, Malawi is one of the most urbanizing countries in Africa at 6.3 per cent per annum, three times the global rate and nearly twice the Africa rate of 3.5 per cent².

Source of figures: National Statistics Office census reports

Malawi’s towns and cities are growing at unprecedented rates and so are secondary towns and market centres. Absolute urban population¹ is expected to almost double by 2020 and will overtake rural growth³. Sustainable urbanisation is now one of the most pressing challenges facing Malawi.

Urbanisation of poverty
Rapid urbanisation in Malawi is not associated with the commensurate economic growth and effective redistributive measures required to alleviate poverty. The result is increasing urban poverty whose most visible manifestation is the slums which continue to develop in and around the cities and the towns in Malawi. These settlements are characterised by poor access to physical infrastructure such as roads, electricity and poor access to social services such as health, education, water and sanitation, insecure tenure and poor housing conditions. In Malawi, housing conditions and poverty are closely related and mutually reinforcing.

According to UN HABITAT’s State of the World’s Cities 2006/2007 Report, annual slum growth rate in Malawi is 3.9 per cent. In 2005, 1.86 million people or close to 90% of Malawians in urban areas lived under slum conditions ª.

The assertion ‘where we live matters’ is particularly important for the attainment of the MDGs in Malawi. Inadequate housing and lack of basic services of slum dwellers, threaten their health and education demonstrating the need to understand the connection between living conditions and human development. This connection is fundamental.

Tackling urban poverty provides an important entry point for achievement of all the MDG in cities; the sheer concentration of people living in slums make them ideal targets for interventions aimed at reducing poverty, reducing child mortality and HIV prevalence, improving literacy and promoting environmental sustainability in urban areas.

Current UN-HABITAT support to Malawi

UN-HABITAT is committed to supporting Malawi in her efforts to achieve sustainable urbanisation and adequate shelter for all and the achievement of the MDGs.

Cities Without Slums Programme
The Cities Without Slums Programme is an initiative that aims to contribute to the realisation of the Millennium Development Goal 7, target 11: by 2020, to have improved the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. Blantyre City is implementing this programme, which will be replicated in other cities in Malawi.

The goal of the initiative in Blantyre is to assist the City Assembly and the Government of Malawi to build and strengthen its approach for upgrading unplanned settlements and improving living conditions of populations living in those settlements.

UN-HABITAT has provided technical and financial support to Blantyre City Assembly to examine the existing state of informal settlements in the city and develop a framework for city wide upgrading of informal settlements.

Malawi National Slum Upgrading Programme
To replicate the Blantyre initiative nationally, UN-HABITAT is providing technical support to the Government of Malawi to formulate a National Slum Upgrading Programme.

Managing HIV and AIDS at the local level programme
In September 2000, as a part of the Millennium Declaration adopted by the United Nations, member states resolved to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS. UN-HABITAT, as the lead UN agency for shelter and local authorities, developed a programme to build the capacity of local authorities and other stakeholders to manage the HIV and AIDS pandemic at the local level. Originally implemented through the Urban Management Programme, the objectives are to enable municipal local governments and other local stakeholders to assess the impact of HIV/AIDS and to plan and implement appropriate responses.

Activities to manage the HIV and AIDS pandemic at the local level were initiated in Blantyre, which undertook the first Phase of the project in 2003 as a joint initiative between UN-HABITAT and UNDP. Excellent progress has been made, led by the Blantyre City Assembly, and Blantyre was held up as a good example for replication in other cities. Blantyre has completed the city profile and undertaken transformational leadership training and community conversation facilitator training. Nine breakthrough activities are underway and four additional activities comprise a new action plan in Phase 2, including “20 days of Activism”, further community conversations and knowledge management. HIV and AIDS has been mainstreamed and institutionalized within the work and budget of the Blantyre City Assembly. Over 15 VCT Centres have been established, an HIV and AIDS resource centre exists in the City Assembly, there is increased cooperation with civic groups and thousands of Blantyre residents have been reached through a variety of outreach and community programmes supported by the BCA.

HIV/AIDS initiative rollout to other cities
Since 2006, UN-HABITAT has provided financial and technical support to the Malawi AMICAALL* Chapter through MALGA* for the replication of the Blantyre experience to three additional cities in Malawi:  Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu.
* AMICAALL - Alliance of Mayors Initiative for Community Action on HIV and AIDS at Local Level
* MALGA - Malawi Local Government Association

Malawi National Housing Policy
UNDP has provided financial support to the Malawi Government for the preparation of the Malawi National Housing Policy now in draft form. UN-HABITAT is providing technical and professional support to this process.

Malawi Award for Human Settlements (MAHS)
To recognize outstanding contributions aimed at improving the living environment in Malawi, UN-HABITAT Malawi office in partnership with Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Surveys, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Malawi Institute of Physical Planners (MIPP) and others initiated the establishment of the Malawi Award for Human Settlements (MAHS). The first award was presented to the Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE) by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Surveys Henry Phoya on the occasion of the 2006 World Habitat Day. CCODE has initiated and coordinates a social movement of the urban poor through community managed savings and credit groups that have begun to deliver housing for the urban poor and other poverty reduction activities.

Blantyre HIV/AIDS Initiative makes it into top 48 global best practices
The Blantyre HIV/AIDS Initiative was documented and through the Malawi Award for Human Settlements (MAHS), submitted to the Dubai International Award for Best Practices in Improving the Living Environment. Out of a total of 609 practices evaluated from around the world, the Blantyre submission was selected as one of 48 shortlisted Best Practices.

Future Activities and Events

UN-HABITAT to have Country Programme Document (CPD)
In 2007, UN-HABITAT will prepare a Country Programme Document (CPD) as a guiding framework for future UN-HABITAT interventions in Malawi. It will ensure that UN-HABITAT activities in Malawi are fully aligned to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and other programming instruments notably the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS). The CPD will be prepared through a consultative process by UN-HABITAT, other UN agencies, donors and key national partners.

Malawi Urban Forum
In 2007, Malawi will hold it’s first ever Urban Forum. This is an initiative being coordinated by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Surveys, UN-HABITAT and other partners. It will be an opportunity to engage key players in urban development in Malawi ranging from urban communities, local authorities, central government, private sector, ngos, donors and the UN in discussing key urban challenges facing Malawi and setting on a path to finding appropriate responses. The Forum will also inform Malawi’s participation at the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China in 2008.

Malawi to participate in UN-HABITAT’s Business Partnership for Sustainable Urbanisation
Given the recognized tremendous contribution of the private sector to urban shelter and basic infrastructures, cooperation with the private sector is increasingly seen as a necessity, not just an option to ensure sustainable urbanization. In order to meet the challenge, UN-HABITAT is setting up a Business Partnership for Sustainable Urbanisation (BPSU), a strategic alliance of business companies, foundations and other partners working towards sustainable urbanization. The platform will provide a policy forum for the business community, offer access to leading edge information on urbanization issues and help identify new market opportunities and business models to channel corporate social responsibility investment and promote investment in sustainable housing and services for the poor. UN-HABITAT’s brokering role will be to promote dialogue between partners and help take concrete actions around urbanization issues.

Six Malawian firms and institutions participated in the first BPSU Stakeholders Meeting in Nairobi in April 2007. These are engaged in providing services and products ranging from housing finance, real estate development and research into clean energy systems. They are NBS Bank, Nyumba Yanu, Press Properties, Sonke, Press Trust and Mzuzu University.

Recent Events and News


UN-HABITAT Malawi jointly with Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development organized Malawi Urban Sensitization Workshop on 11th May 2011 at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.  This workshop was part of activities to strengthen the Malawi Urban Forum. The Malawi Urban Forum was established in 2007 to create space for genuine policy dialogue among partners in the country to promote better urban development and to raise the profile of urban and housing issues at country level in view of developing policies and programmes for adequate housing and sustainable urban development. The workshop brought together stakeholders drawn from   central government, local authorities, professional institutions, private sector, academia, NGOs, utilities, media and development partners. 

The objectives of the workshop were:

1.To achieve greater awareness on the purpose and objectives of the MUE among all stakeholders
2.To strengthen the governance structures of MUF
3.To plan for the next major activities of the MUF

The following are the key outcomes of this workshop:

1.The Ministry of Development Planning and Cooperation (MDPC) will chair the Malawi Urban Forum.
2.The Malawi Urban Forum Secretariat will remain in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and will be supported by UN-HABITAT.
3.The Steering Committee of the Malawi Urban Forum was expanded to be inclusive of the key urban sector actors and now includes representatives from central government, local authorities, professional institutions, parliamentarians, private sector, academia, NGOs, utilities, media and development partners.
4.The second session of the Malawi Urban Forum will be held in October 2011.
5.The 2nd Malawi Awards for Human Settlements (MAHS) will be organized in 2011 under the auspices of the Malawi Urban Forum.

The workshop was made possible with the technical and financial support of UN-HABITAT. The workshop was jointly organized with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.



The Malawi Award for Human Settlements
The quality of human settlements is a significant determinant of the quality of life of the people who live and work in those settlements. Poor living environments lead to disease, crime, deprivation and squalor. Improving the quality of human settlements in Malawi will lead to a better quality of life and will help Malawi towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially targets 10 and 11.

In order to promote good initiatives to improve the living environment, the Malawi Award for Human Settlements (MAHS) was established in 2006. The first awards were presented by the Minister for Lands and Housing on World Habitat Day in 2006. The top three awards and the five special mention submissions were documented, published and disseminated.

What are best practices?
They are outstanding successful initiatives to improve the living environment which:

  • Have a demonstrable and tangible impact on improving people’s quality of life.

  • Are the result of effective partnerships between the public, private and civic sectors of society.

  • Are socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Why best practices?
Best practices are promoted as a means of:

  • Improving public policy based on what works.

  • Raising awareness of decision makers at all levels and of the public of potential solutions to common social, economic and environmental problems.

  • Sharing and transferring knowledge, expertise and experience through networking and peer-to-peer learning.

The award is open to govt institutions or agencies, city, municipal and district councils, bilateral and multilateral agencies, NGOs, CBOs, private sector, research and academic institutions, media, public or private foundations/trusts, individuals provided that they are submitting a specific initiative or project that meets the Best Practices criteria.

Criteria and consideration for a best practice
The major criteria for a best practice to be considered for the award include:

  • Impact – a best practice should demonstrate a positive and tangible impact on improving the living environment of people, particularly of the poor and disadvantaged.

  • Partnership – best practices should be based on partnerships between at least two actors.

  • Sustainability – best practices should result in lasting changes.

  • Additional criteria include leadership and community empowerment, gender equality and social inclusion, innovation within local context and transferability.

Best practice categories
Best practices can be in the following categories: poverty reduction, economic development, social services, environmental management, infrastructure, communication, transportation, housing, land use management, urban governance, civic engagement and cultural vitality, gender equality and social inclusion, disaster risk reduction, resilient communities, waste management, urban and regional planning, technology, children and youth, older persons, architecture and urban design, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS, technical and international cooperation.

Submission format
To obtain the MAHS submission format please download the information at www.unmalawi.org/habitat or contact Elizabeth Nyanja at UN-HABITAT at elizabeth.nyanja@undp.org Mobile: 0888307522  Fax: 01773637 or Essau Mwambira at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development at etambira@yahoo.co.uk Mobile: 0888315223 Fax: 01775941.      The submissions can be made via email at the above emails or fax at the above faxes or in paper copy at the respective offices.

Submission deadline
The  deadline for submissions is 31 July 2011. The awards will be presented on World Habitat Day 3rd October 2011.
Best practices will have the opportunity to showcase their work before a national audience during the 2nd Session of the Malawi Urban Forum planned for October 2011.



For more details visit www.unhabitat.org or contact

John Chome
Habitat Programme Manager, Malawi
c/o UNDP Malawi

David Kithakye
Senior Human Settlements Advisor (Regional Office, Kenya)

¹ State of the World’s Cities 2006/7 Report, UN-HABITAT
² GEO 3, 2004. www.unhabitat.org/habrdd/statannexes
³ UN World Urbanisation Prospects 2001
ªA slum household according to UN-HABITAT is a group of individuals living under the same roof in an urban area who lack one or more of the following five conditions: durable housing, sufficient living area, access to improved water, access to sanitation and secure tenure.