Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Lilongwe, Malawi

A number of stakeholders were engaged with regarding the challenges and needs around rivers in Lilongwe.

Una Rivers target cities map


  • The population of Lilongwe is close to 1 million
  • 76% of the City’s population live in informal settlements
  • The main rivers in Lilongwe are the Lilongwe, Lingadzi, Nankhaka and Chankhandwe Rivers
  • The Lilongwe River is the biggest and longest river and the primary source of water
  • The main source of pollution in rivers is dumping of waste, especially by factories
  • Other issues relating to rivers includes urban agriculture and land use change

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. 2016 Achievements

Plan for a river restoration project: A landscape master plan for a river restoration pilot project for the Lilongwe River was developed. This plan was developed in close partnership with the Lilongwe City Council as well as community members through intensive public participation processes. During the remainder of the UNA Rivers project, components of this plan will be implemented.

LBSAP updated and capacity building: The City of Lilongwe’s Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was updated and is nearing completion. In addition, keyholders were introduced to the Building the Capacity for the Sub-National Implementation of NBSAPs project and information was gathered to feed into this project.

Song produced: A well-known local singer, Lulu (based in Malawi), produced a unique song on why rivers are important. This song is being used to mobilise local communities so that they protect their urban rivers.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. 2017 Outputs

Implementation for the Lilongwe River: A waste management campaign is currently being rolled out for a portion of the Lilongwe River (outlined by the landscape master plan developed in 2016).

Mapping and capacity building: Mapping services for the City of Lilongwe began in 2016 and include developing: 1) a wildlife sightings and habitat distribution map; 2) an urban natural asset hotspot/ priority map (i.e. areas of no development); 3) a map of the spatial extent that the Lilongwe River and its catchment has been degraded in relation to land tenure, land use and land practices; and 4) a risk assessment map in relation to climate change and anthropogenic changes for the Lilongwe River. The mapping will be completed in July 2017. Based on the above information, an implementation/ enforcement plan (that details the areas to be prioritised by the environmental enforcement teams) will also be produced. Extensive capacity building of key decision makers, technical staff and communities, on this mapped information, will occur in 2017.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Gallery

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