In 2001 Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre was named the world’s most desirable habitation and today the new Mayor, Noel Chalamanda is striving to get the city back to its lost glory.
Blantyre , according to a report which was published in The Guardian newspaper of UK in 2001, Blantyre was named the the best city in the world to live as cheaper than New York, more peaceful than Paris and cleaner than London.
It was crowned the city where the highest quality of life for housing, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment can be purchased at the cheapest price in a poll of the most popular business centres in the world.
But today, 15 years later 60 out of every 100 people in Blantyre City are living in slums, which occupy 30 percent of the city’s land, which makes the country’s commercial city one big slum
Last year when members of Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network visited Malawi and had an audience with Blantyre Mayor Chalamanda, he said 40 percent of the city’s population is occupying 70 percent of 228 square kilometres of available land.
“There are a number of reasons that have caused this influx, some of them include [the fact] that there is little seriousness with issues of town planning, people just build their houses anyhow without following city orders.
“Another factor is that migration levels are very high in Blantyre as we have people coming from nearby districts seeking greener pastures and opportunities here.”
However, the mayor said all cities in the world have slums, a fact that cannot be ignored as no matter what, the slums will always be there and somehow the city cannot do without them as they provide housing to the urban poor who cannot afford to live in formal settlements.
Blantyre City Council (BCC) director Costly Chanza said the council has already taken a step towards slum upgrading to bring sanity in some communities around Blantyre.