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Country Facts:

  • Capital: Lilongwe
  • Date of independence: 1964
  • Population: 18.57 million
  • Urbanization: 16.3%
  • Life expectancy: 61.2 years
  • Unemployment rate: 8.6%
  • Population living below poverty line: 52.4%

Find more country facts on: CIA The World Factbook – Malawi


Habitat Facts

  • Date when Habitat started working in the country: 1986
  • Individuals served in FY18: 38,965
  • Volunteers hosted in FY18: 315
  • Housing solutions: New homes, incremental, professional services


Habitat for Humanity Malawi

Habitat for Humanity Malawi is a registered, non-profit, Christian housing organization affiliated with Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat Malawi seeks to help build 1) decent shelter, improving the lives of orphans and other vulnerable groups of people; 2) water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH, systems to improve the sanitation status and wellbeing of slum dwellers; and 3) disaster risk reduction and response projects to improve access to better and safer shelter for families living in areas prone to disasters.


The housing need in Malawi

In Malawi, poverty is prevalent and about four out of five families live in substandard homes with little hope of ever being able to afford a decent house. A typical village hut is built of mud bricks with a dirt floor and grass-thatched roof, which requires frequent repairs. These conditions put the families at high risk of all kinds of diseases with leaky roofs making the house damp and mud floors attracting insects. There are about 1.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi out of a population of 18.57 million and approximately 21,000 new units are needed every year for the next 10 years to meet housing demand – this far exceeds supply.

Malawi has a high rural to urban migration – 5.3 percent per annum, one of the highest in Africa. People are migrating to urban areas to look for economic opportunities. This trend has led to the rapid increase of slums in the cities. 76 percent of the population in Lilongwe, the capital city, lives in slums and with an average of five people per household and an average of six families per latrine.


Habitat’s contribution in Malawi

Habitat Malawi provides new, fully subsidized homes for orphans and other vulnerable groups. Habitat Malawi also provides housing support services to low-income people in partnership with housing microfinance institutions. Habitat Malawi strives to enhance the resilience of families living in flood-prone areas by supporting and enabling them to have permanent, durable and flood-resistant shelter.


Our programs

Orphans and vulnerable groups
Our Orphans and Vulnerable Groups, or OVG, program started in 2009 and to date, Habitat Malawi has constructed over 446 houses for vulnerable families. The project intends to improve the living conditions for 450 OVG families and reduce their vulnerability by June 2018. In FY17 alone, 146 families were served with decent housing. 

The services include:

  • Improved housing:

Two-, three- or four-room houses for vulnerable families including a ventilated pit-latrine to improve sanitation and hygiene.

  • Malaria prevention  training:

Three insecticide-treated mosquito nets are provided per family. 
Families are also trained in good sanitation and hygiene practices to prevent diseases, including malaria.

  • HIV prevention training:

The training is aimed at preventing new infections arising from sexual exploitation, especially of girls and caregivers.

  • Vocational skills training:

Provided to older children, especially those who dropped out of school. The package includes provision of tools and equipment, like carpentry or sewing machines.

  • Property and inheritance rights training:

Aiming to protect orphans and vulnerable children from property grabbing, the training is offered to caregivers and gate keepers.

Housing support services
Our housing support services project aims to increase resources available to low-income families, making it easier for them to obtain and develop decent housing through the provision of microfinance loans and construction technical assistance. The project is being implemented in partnership with a microfinance institution. The partner offers loans to clients while Habitat Malawi provides technical advice. The project intends to assist 24,000 clients with housing support services by June 2018. To date, over 22,000 clients have benefited from this program across Malawi.

Water, sanitation and hygiene
The aim of the project is to improve the sanitation status and wellbeing of 450 slum dwellers in Kauma Slum in Lilongwe through equitable access to better sanitation by June 2018. Over 1,800 families have accessed water and sanitation services since May 2014, when the project began.

Disaster risk reduction and response
The project was initiated after the floods that occurred in the early months of 2015 and affected 1.1 million people, including displacing 230,000 people. The aim of the project is to provide shelter solutions that will assist in recovery and promote resilience by enhancing the capacity of the affected population.


Meet a Habitat family

Thanks to Habitat Malawi, Paulo, 51, moved from a little hut to a decent house. Because his hut was so small, Paulo’s feet would stick out into the open air at night as he slept. Now in his new house, he can sit on the veranda during the day and marvel at his new shelter. He is so excited about his home that he says he cannot believe it belongs to him.

Paulo developed epilepsy while he was young. One day, he fell into a fire, was severely burned and ended up losing three fingers. Since he cannot take care of himself due to his epileptic condition, his sister provides for his needs. On a good day, he makes flower-bloom creations that his sister is able to sell.

Paulo also no longer lives alone. Each day he has company from his brothers who now live with him.


What you can do

You can help Malawian families improve their living conditions by taking one or more of the following actions:

Donate: Go to and designate your gift to Habitat Malawi.

Volunteer: Join one of the scheduled Global Village trips to Malawi or lead your own. Contact us to learn more:

Tithe: All affiliate tithe gifts are sent internationally to serve families outside of the United States. To support the work of Habitat MALAWI, please send your tithe to: Habitat for Humanity International P.O. Box 6598 Americus, GA 31709-3498.



To learn more about Habitat projects in Malawi or in other parts of the region, please contact us:

Habitat for Humanity Malawi

Kelvin Kalonga, National Director

Colleen Hughes, Program Development Manager

Travel and Build

Volunteer with Habitat abroad through our Global Village program.

Salima, Malawi

July 11, 2020 - July 19, 2020

July 11-19, 2020: Explore, build and learn on this Global Village trip to Malawi!

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Salima, Malawi

June 27, 2020 - July 05, 2020

June 27-July 5, 2020: Explore, build and learn on this Global Village trip to Malawi!

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Stories and news

The plight of Grace

Grace January suddenly heard people shouting ‘Water! Water! Water!‘ Her house was taken by flood in the aftermath of the Cyclone Idai. Help her to rebuild it.

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Malawi struggles with floods

Flooding in Malawi has affected nearly one million people causing them to leave their homes and lose possessions. Emergency shelter and sanitation are in urgent demand.

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Keeping girls in schools

We call for gender parity and commit to put young schoolgirls and women at the heart of our water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives. Without proper sanitation facilities, they tend to miss school or dropout from classes.

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Safe and secure

“Not even in my dreams did I imagine living in a house like this,” Jika told us after she moved from an unsafe mud hut to a new Habitat home.

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