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Malawi is going to town. Implications for attaining the MDGs John Chome UN-HABITAT Programme Manager Urban growth rate league table. Rwanda 9.2 Burundi 6.1 Eritrea 6.0 Sierra Leone 5.9 Burkina Faso 5.2 Chad 5.0 Malawi 4.8. Why rapid urbanisation.

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malawi is going to town

Malawi is going to town

Implications for attaining the MDGs

John Chome

UN-HABITAT Programme Manager

urban growth rate league table
Urban growth rate league table
  • Rwanda 9.2
  • Burundi 6.1
  • Eritrea 6.0
  • Sierra Leone 5.9
  • Burkina Faso 5.2
  • Chad 5.0
  • Malawi 4.8
why rapid urbanisation
Why rapid urbanisation
  • Low urbanisation levels (20%)
  • Natural growth (total fertility rates for urban women 15-49 yrs is 4.2)
  • Rural push
    • Diminishing land holdings (55% of smallholder farmers have less than 1ha of cultivable land)
    • Lack of rural off farm economic opportunities
    • Environmental degradation
    • Natural disasters
  • Land is increasingly less able to support land based livelihoods.
  • Movement to the cities and towns to escape rural poverty.
in the city
In the city
  • 1,860,000 urban Malawians live under slum conditions.
  • Rate of slum growth (4.0%) synonymous with urban growth (4.8%).
  • Inappropriate or nonexistent policy responses.
  • Poor access to basic urban services including land and housing.
  • Weak local economies to generate jobs.
  • Weak local government capacity.
  • A reluctance to acknowledge the permanence of informal settlements prevents effective management of this issue.
  • Result: Increasing urbanisation of poverty whose visible manifestations are the slums
goal 1 eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger


  • Cities act as catalysts for poverty reduction.
  • Urbanisation levels are closely related to levels of income and better performance on social indicators.
  • Cities and slums are often the first step out of rural poverty.
  • Interdependent relationship between urban and rural.


  • The locus of poverty is moving to cities – cities will become the predominant sites of poverty.
  • Malnutrition, hunger and disease are becoming more prevalent in slums.
goal 3 promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 3: promote gender equality and empower women


  • Cities offer women social mobility which has a positive impact on gender equality.


  • Slum life forces many women and girls to engage in sexually risky behaviour
  • Poor access to water and sanitation places an enormous labour and health burden to women and girls living in slums.
goal 4 reduce under five mortality
Goal 4: Reduce under-five mortality


  • Interventions in water, sanitation and housing have positive outcomes in the reduction of child mortality rates


  • High under five mortality rates due to environmental factors.
  • Access to more health care facilities in cities does not automatically lead to reduced mortality rates in slums.
goal 7 ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability


  • Slums provide an important entry point for the achievement of all the MDGs in urban areas.
  • Concentration of production and population lowers unit costs of services


  • Slum dwellers are more likely to live in hazardous locations which are more prone to natural disasters
  • Consequencies of poor access to water and sanitation in urban areas are more severe than in rural areas.
  • Destructive ecological footprints of urbanisation.
  • Urbanisation in Malawi is irreversible and can be engine for economic growth if managed sustainably.
  • Poverty reduction in rural areas is inextricably linked to sustainable urbanisation.
  • Rapid urbanisation in Malawi and the shifting of the locus of poverty to cities and towns mean that the struggle to achieve the MDGs will be won or lost in the urban areas.