Malawi is a democratic republic in Southeast Africa. The country’s intergovernmental arrangements today originate from the Constitution of 1994, which formally transitioned Malawi from a one-party state to a democratic, multi-party system of government. The Constitution established Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and a subsequent decentralization policy was adopted in 1998 to translate aspirations for local government into reality, supported by the Local Government Act of the same year (amended in 2010). In practice, however, the extent of decentralization has been limited across all key dimensions (political, administrative, and fiscal) with significant powers retained by the central government, resulting in limited de facto autonomy for LGAs, reducing their ability to fulfil their prescribed mandates.

Subnational government structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessment

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Malawi 2023 (Excel)

Selected resources

Malawi Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

The Local Government System in Malawi (Commonwealth Local Government Forum)

Local government country profile: Malawi (UN Women)

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Last updated: December 29, 2023