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Practice and Politics of Land Use for Urban Climate Mitigation and Adaptation in Blantyre and Lilongwe Cities, Malawi


Malawi’s population is fast growing, with a good share of urban residents being susceptible to environmental risks and disasters. This risk is aggravated by climate change. Blantyre and Lilongwe cities are not spared by this scenario. The study used household survey, key informant interviews, observation, and experience to gather primary data, and desk study to solicit secondary data. Random and purposive sampling was employed to identify survey respondents and informants, respectively. Content analysis was used to establish themes and relationships. A good number of regulatory frameworks (policies) and programmes for abating urban climate change mitigation and adaptation have been in place, but implementation is a challenge. Political interference tends to shift priorities on policies to be implemented at one particular point in time of a political regime, and this has culminated into a sour relationship between politics and land use planning, with the former jeopardizing the practice by the latter. Funding insufficiency, uncontrolled development, political interference, corruption and lack of transparency, insufficient stakeholder engagement, and poor planning contribute to poor and insufficient disaster risk management, and to increased disaster risks in Blantyre and Lilongwe cities. Citizen involvement in appropriate and effective land use planning process, regular communication on the availability of safety information, and robust emergency notification system can make communities in Lilongwe and Blantyre cities resilient from climate-related risks. The urban governance system has to be strengthened. There is need for adequate political will for mobilization of urban climate governance efforts.

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Both authors contributed equally to the study.

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Correspondence to Gilbert Chilinde or Dereck Mamiwa.

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Chilinde, G., Mamiwa, D. Practice and Politics of Land Use for Urban Climate Mitigation and Adaptation in Blantyre and Lilongwe Cities, Malawi. Urban Forum 33, 65–82 (2022).

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  • Land use planning
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Political interference
  • Stakeholder engagement