Understanding everyday and disaster risks in Karonga Town, Malawi


This policy brief presents information on the full spectrum of risks facing the inhabitants of Karonga, and these have been identified by Karonga residents as resulting in premature death or injury and/or affecting their livelihoods and assets. Full knowledge of the risks can help policy makers highlight where risk reduction is needed and possible.

Urban areas need local governments that can understand and address the most serious risks facing their population. Risks range from floods and earthquakes, to unsafe sanitation, dirty fuels and poor drinking water quality. Risks are higher for low-income households and are worsened by the limited capacity of the local government to fulfil its responsibilities for risk reduction.

The study found that in Malawi, the failure of decentralisation and the neglect of (small) urban areas is what underpins the lack of attention to reducing everyday risks and disaster risks.