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Malawi: Blantyre Urban Profile

Blantyre City is the oldest urban centre in Malawi, established by the Scottish Missionaries in the 1870s and declared a planning area in 1897. It is the hub for communication, commercial activities and cooperation in Malawi. The influence of Blantyre declined when Lilongwe became the capital city in 1975. However, it has maintained its grip as the commercial capital of Malawi.

The city offers a number of economic opportunities but lacks resources to meaningfully implement its strategies and provide the required basic social infrastructure and urban services required for economic development to take place. Over 65 percent of the city’s population lives in informal settlements which occupy about 23 percent of the land in Blanytre. Poverty stands at 24 percent while unemployment stands at 8 percent.

Improved governance, revenue collection and management capacity are seen as major factors needed for reducing poverty in the city. The establishment of a development coordinating committee (DCC) is vital for encouraging participation and city management. Policies must be formulated and implemented to address the existing shortfalls and such policies should be pro-poor.Improvement and expansion of service delivery, planning capacity and financial management is a necessity. All in all, the leadership of Blantyre should embrace good governance through principles of sustainability, subsidiarity, equity, transparency and accountability, civic engagement and citizenship, and security.