In 2001 it was estimated that 91.1% of Malawi’s urban population lived in slums. The local Malawi chapter of Shack Dwellers International in Lilongwe recently mobilized over 2000 families and approached the Lilongwe authority for approval to build their own homes. 220 families were given land, and 220 houses were built by these families in two months! In response to this projects’ success, City authorities in Lilongwe have expressed an interest in offering more land to the local Federation. The Malawi Minister of Housing has also recently pledged 15,000 sites to the Malawi Federation. In Blantyre the City authorities have also asked the Federation to conduct a City wide slum enumeration, amidst approximately 17 communities. The Federation has already enumerated two slum settlements.
The Lilongwe project exemplifies the ability of organized communities to mobilise and to use innovative, locally appropriate and affordable building materials. All houses were built using adobe bricks. The experience of Lilongwe has encouraged other Federations (including Zimbabwe and South Africa) to experiment with alternative building materials.
The Malawi Federation is now active in every informal settlement in Lilongwe and Blantyre, with a total membership of nearly 30,000 people. This agency organizes and manages group savings schemes, which operate on a daily basis in slum communities with the aim of improving living conditions, amongst other things. For more information visit the Malawi Federation, the South African Federation Affiliates and the Shack Dwellers International websites.