Sanitation service delivery in smaller urban areas (Mzuzu and Karonga, Malawi)

Rochelle H. Holm, University of Louisville
Alinafe Kamangira, University Malawi
Mavuto Tembo, University Malawi
Victor Kasulo, University Malawi
Hastings Kandaya
Peter Gijs Van Enk, Netherlands Red Cross
Alex Velzeboer, Netherlands Red Cross


This paper assesses the provision of sanitation services in two urban areas in northern Malawi, both with populations under 150,000, to determine the potential for private sector enterprises to contribute to longer-term self-reliance as part of the overall sanitation situation. The paper shows that most households in the two study areas use pit latrines and remain unserved with regard to both faecal sludge management and solid waste removal. Local governments have been unable to offer adequate coverage of sanitation services, and community-based organizations are doing very little that is relevant to the issue. This gap offers a viable business opportunity for private sanitation service providers. Of these two urban areas, Karonga Town has no formal private sector services, but Mzuzu City has pit emptying and solid waste collection services, plus some small-scale manufacturers of pre-made pit latrine slabs. The paper explores these activities, considering their accessibility to low-income customers. It closes with suggestions regarding the potential for building on what is currently available.