Conflicts over Water Use in Malawi: A Socio-Economic Study of Water Resources Management along the Likangala River in Zomba District

CRSP:   |  Region:   |  Topic:   |  Database:

W. O. Mulwafu; Stanley Khaila

Type of Document:
Research Report


BASIS CRSP, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Madison, WI


Abstract: This paper examines conflicts over water use and management among communities living along the Likangala river in the Zomba district of Southern Malawi. The data for this paper was collected at five different points along the Likangala river which involved the use of focus group discussions, interviews and field observations. Situated on the south eastern part of the Zomba mountain, the Likangala river is one of the major rivers in Zomba district which empties into Lake Chilwa.

The paper argues that although water supply in this area is Generally sufficient, its distribution and use is extremely skewed. This generates conflicts that underscore the deeply entrenched power relations existing in the area, particularly between the domestic and productive users of water resources. Conflicts have also increased as a result of the emergence of many development projects in the area. By highlighting the socio-cultural dimension of contestations over water use, the paper contributes to the growing body of literature on water resources management in Malawi.

Because the study of the Likangala river represents a microcosmic survey of the river systems in the Lake Chilwa basin, some of the conclusions drawn may be of relevance to other areas as well. Notwithstanding its many unique characteristics, the study of the Likangala river offers some insights into questions of General water resources management for the country. In addition, it has significant implications for policy formulation and implementation.

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