Habitat Unit

Landesgraduiertenförderung Baden-Württemberg, Since 2012
Karolin Stahl-Wilhelm

Modes of Urban Housing Supply in Southeast Africa since Independence: Case Study Malawi

Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi have a similar political and socio-economic setting and have experiences similar modes of urban housing supply since the late colonial period of the 1950s. In contrast, only the shelter policy of Malawi has been seen by scholars as successful before the onset of democracy in 1992 when the growing demand of housing was able to keep up with the provision and hindered the development of slums. This explains why illegal shelters of Malawi are referred to as “democratic housing”.

Modes of Urban Housing Supply in Southeast Africa since Independence 1

The central question is: Why was Malawi capable of sustaining a successful housing delivery until the 1990s?
Using Malawi as a case study, the dissertation evaluates through a quantitative and qualitative approach the housing history of Malawi and the continuities and discontinuities regarding finance, governance, policies and approaches of Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania since the 1950s. The dissertation aims to understand the reasons for Malawi´s formerly balanced housing delivery system and the indicators for success and failure in urban housing supply in the context of south-east Africa.

With reference to the current debate about how to achieve affordable housing as one major part of poverty reduction (Millennium Development Goal), the dissertation deduces potentials and challenges for the actually discussed housing strategies.

The doctoral thesis is funded by Landesgraduiertenförderung Baden-Württemberg.


(2010) Some Notes on the Development of Zomba. In: The Society of Malawi Journal – Historical and Scientific, (63) No. 2

(expected end of 2015) Malawi´s architecture and history. DOM-publishers