Blantyre 8 October 2019—Malawi’s cabinet recently approved the National Urban Policy (NUP), which was the culmination of a process that was initiated in 2014.The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development was tasked to coordinate the process that would guide the urbanisation and urban development in Malawi to the achieve sustainable urbanization. The policy is also expected to provide a framework to address weak regulatory and ineffective programs such as National Physical Development Plan of 1987, the Town and Country Planning Act and its subsidiary regulations, Secondary Centre’s Program, Rural growth Centre’s Program.

Several calls were made in the past to develop the Malawi NUP with stakeholders expressing the need for the NUP during the Second Session of the Malawi Urban Forum held in 2011. Other reports that urged for NUP included “2014 Situation of Urbanization in Malawi” and “2016 Malawi Urbanization Review”. Stakeholders saw the need to develop a NUP to curb some of the urban challenges such as: unclear weak urban governance, poor planning and management of urban development, inadequate capacity to deliver urban infrastructure and services, poor urban environmental management and weak resilience to disasters and other shocks and limited financial resources to fund urban development among other things.

It is from this background that the Government of Malawi decided to formulate its National Urban Policy with the aim of achieving Inclusive, Competitive, Sustainable, Resilient Cities and other human settlements in the country.

The NUP process in Malawi was anchored in close partnerships with members of the Malawi National Habitat Committee (MNHC), other stakeholders and development partners such as World Bank and UN-Habitat. The Malawi Institute of Physical Planners developed the first draft of the NUP. The draft policy was further refined through several consultative meetings with stakeholders during workshops and National Habitat Committee meetings.  Eventually the policy was validated at the Third Session of the Malawi Urban Forum held in August 2018. As a procedure, the Policy was further refined following comments from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and the Malawi Cabinet Committee. Finally, the NUP was approved by the Full cabinet of the Malawi Government on 2nd April 2019.

The Malawi National Urban Policy contains a coherent set of strategies that will promote more inclusive, resilient cities and sustainable urban development in the long term in the country. The policy has also been designed as one of the vehicles to achieve the aspirations of the Malawi Growth Development Strategy III at local level, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially goal number 11, New Urban Agenda and Agenda 63, The Africa We Want.

Moving ahead, the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (Ministry) will coordinate the work of different sectors, initiate programs for smooth implementation of the policy. The Ministry will facilitate the formulation of legal framework for urban development and strengthen local urban based management structures to improve urban governance.

The progress on the implementation of the policy is expected to be updated in subsequent meeting during the National Habitat Committee meetings and Malawi Urban Forums. The policy is expected to be reviewed in every five years.

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