The District Commissioner
Lilongwe District Assembly
P.O. Box 93
Tel: 265 1 756 110

The District Commissioner- Mr. Charles Kalemba

A. Description

Lilongwe District is located in the Central Region of Malawi between the latitudes 13 30’ South and 14 45’ South, and longitudes 33 15’ East and 33 30’ East. It hosts the capital city of Malawi and covers an area of 6,159 square kilometres and shares its borders with Dedza district to the east, Mchinji district to the west, Dowa district to the north, Kasungu district to the north-west and an international border with Mozambique to the south-west. Large part of the district is a plain area except for the South-eastern part around Nkhoma area which is predominantly covered with few mountains and the Dzalanyama mountains in the South–western part lying between altitudes 1,000 – 1600m. Lilongwe district has an average annual rainfall of between 800 to 1000mm and mean annual temperatures of about 20 to 22.5 degrees Celsius.
The district has a total population of about 1,346,360 people (1998 census) with a population density of about 219 per square kilometre. The predominant tribe is Chewa which accounts for almost 99% of the entire population. Other tribes from across the country also exist in the district due to other reasons such as economic gains or searching for employment.
Out of the total area covering the district most of the land is under agriculture which is the main economic activity in the district. To this extent 429,435 hectares is arable land for small holders with an average land of 1.22 hectares per farmer and 11,525 hectares is under estate farming with a total number of 25 estates. Besides, the district has also a huge potential of irrigation development of more than 80,000 hectares. Land tenure in the district is divided into three namely: customary, public and private leasehold. The main cash crops are tobacco, cotton and paprika whilst maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, groundnuts soybeans, cowpeas are the food crops. Currently there are 147 markets which are owned by Private Institutions, ADMARC and the District Assembly.

Location and size

Lilongwe District hosts the capital city of Malawi, which owes its name to a river that flows almost across the centre of the district.  It is located in the Central Region of the Republic of Malawi (See Map 1). The district is bordered by Dedza District to the East, Salima to the North East. Mchinji District marks the western border. Dowa District lies to the north of Lilongwe with Kasungu to its North-western tip and the Republic of Mozambique to the South West. The total land area is 6,159 Square Kilometres representing 6.5 % of Malawi’s total land area.

Population Increase and Growth Rate

In 1987 the population was 970,005 and in 1998 it was 1,346,360 representing an inter-censual population increase of 37.9%. However the population annual growth rate has dwindled slightly from 3.3% in 1987 to 2.9% in 1998 but the decline is not significant as the figure is still higher than 2.4 % and 2%, which are the average annual growth rates for the region and the nation respectively.

Population Projection

Basing on the projected annual growth rate of 3.32%, the population of the Lilongwe District Assembly is projected at 1,138,582 in 2005.  

B.         Administrative Structures and Local Politics

1.         Formal Government System and Functions.

(i) District Assembly (DA).

The District Assembly is the highest policy-making body responsible for promoting infrastructural and economic development in the district. The DA, according to the 1998 Local Government Act is comprised of elected members (Ward Councillors), Members of Parliament, Traditional Authorities (See Map 4) and 5 members of interest groups as Ex-officios). But following the dissolution of the Assemblies in 2004, the district has no Councillors and is therefore run through an interim committee known as District Development Steering Committee comprising of 18 MPs and the 17 Chiefs from the TAs with the District Commissioner as its secretary.

The District Assembly’s main functions are as follows:

The Lilongwe District Assembly operates through a system of service committees. It has seven committees namely:-

All these committees are no longer functioning following the dissolution of the assemblies.

(ii) District Assembly Secretariat

The District Assembly Secretariat is headed by the District Commissioner with directors for each of the following departments: Planning and Development; Administration; Finance; Public Works; Health and Social Welfare; Education; Youth, Sports and Culture. The Secretariat’s main functions are:

(iii) The District Executive Committee (DEC)

The District Executive Committee is a technical and advisory committee to the Assembly and is currently composed of about 40 members drawn from government line ministries, statutory corporations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) working in the district. The composition keeps changing as more NGOs come in or leave the district.

The functions of the District Executive Committee are as follows:

The District Commissioner chairs the DEC with the Director of Planning and Development as its Secretary.

(iv) Area Development Committee (ADC)

The Area Development Committee is a representative body of all Village Development Committees (VDCs) under the jurisdiction of the Traditional Authority. The ADC is composed of Ward Councillors from the TA’s area of influence, representatives of religious groups, youth and women groups, and the business community. It is chaired by an elected person within the members with the TA playing an advisory role and the AEC chairperson as its secretary.

Its main functions are:

Lilongwe District has 18 Area Development Committees (ADCs). The term of office is three years except the Ward Councillors who are members until new Councillors are elected.

Most of the ADCs are not functional due to a number of reasons some of which are lack of training etc.

(v) Area Executive Committees (AECs)

The Area Executive Committee (AEC) is a technical and advisory committee to the ADCs. It comprises of all extension workers of government ministries, Non-governmental Organizations and Statutory Corporations working within the jurisdiction of the Traditional Authority.

Its main functions are:

Since there are many extension workers from different sectors and NGOs in a TA area, AEC membership is limited to the following core sectors with one representative from each of the following: - health, education, community development, agriculture, forestry, water and NGOs. It also takes into account VDC representation.
Lilongwe District has 17 AECs.

(vi) Village Development Committees (VDCs)

The Village Development Committee is a representative body of a village or group of villages. The VDC is important in the planning system of the Assembly, as it is the committee closest to the people at grassroots. The committee facilitates planning and development at the community level. It is composed of one elected member from each village within the VDC, Ward Councillor, four women representatives nominated by people within the VDC and elected extension worker. An elected member from the members at its first meeting chairs it.

 Its functions are:

Members of the VDC elect a chairperson amongst themselves. Its term of office is also three years as is the case with the ADCs. Lilongwe District Assembly has 429 Village Development Committees


The Assembly has the following directorates and departments and you can read more by clicking each directorate.

Planning and Development


Public Works

Social Welfare