The Irrigation and Water Development falls under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development

1.0       OUR VISION

‘Water and Sanitation for All always and prosperity through Irrigation’

2.0       OUR MISSION

‘To manage and develop water resources for the sustainable, effective and efficient provision of safe water supply and sanitation services and irrigation systems in a more coordinated manner in support of Malawi’s socio-economic growth and development agenda’.

3.0       MANDATE

‘To ensure that water resources are well managed to meet domestic, agricultural and industrial demands as well as improve access to improved sanitation facilities and adoption of safe hygiene practices’

4.0       SECTOR GOALS

     1.      Improved water resources management for socio-economic growth and development

     2.      Increased availability and accessibility of water supply for socio-economic growth and development

    3.   Universal access to Improved Sanitation and Safe Hygiene practices; while ensuring Sustainable Management of the Environment for the Socio-economic Growth and Development

     4.      Increased use of water for irrigation to raise the contribution of irrigated agriculture to economic growth 

      5.    Improved governance, management systems and capacity or excellence in service delivery


Greenbelt initiative 


The   Irrigation and Water Development sector has four technical departments:

  Water Resources Management and Development   

 Water Supply Services,

  Irrigation Services

  Sanitation and Hygiene.  

  In addition, there is also the Management and Support Services department.

Water Resources Management and Development

5.1.2        Water Resources Board

Under the Act, the objective of the Water Resources Board is to manage the water resources of Malawi by making provision for the control, conservation, apportionment and use of the Water Resources and for purposes incidental thereto and connected therewith. The Board therefore:

                    i.      Provides advice on policy issues to Government

                  ii.      Manages applications for water abstraction permits

                iii.      Manages applications for effluent discharge permits, and

                iv.      Responds to incidents of pollution

Meanwhile processes are underway of institutionalizing the Board into an Authority following the passing of the bill for the creation of a National Water Resources Authority (2013).There is currently an ongoing consultancy service on the establishment of the NWRA, which is looking into the organization and staffing of the National Water Resource Authority.              Services provided by the NWRA

According to the Water Resources Act (2013) apart from abstraction of water for ordinary household use no person is allowed to abstract and use water without a License. The license is required for

                                                                    i.            Abstraction , impoundment and use of water

                                                                  ii.            Borehole drilling

                                                                iii.            Drainage of swamps or any land

                                                                iv.            Consent to discharge effluent

                                                                  v.            Right of way ( certificate of easement)

Therefore persons wishing to apply for the above licenses are supposed to the Authority using a prescribed form which can be obtained from the Authority.

 The criteria for issuance of a license includes

         Consistency with the objectives of the usage with the policies and strategies of the Sector.

         Conformity with efficient Water management practices

         Investment requirement

         Duration of the activity or undertaking

 5.1.4   Water Quality Services Division

The Water Quality Division is further divided into two (2) sections namely: Microbiology and Chemistry sections. To ensure countrywide coverage, the Division has established Regional Water Quality Laboratories in Mzuzu and Blantyre with its Headquarters at Central Water Laboratory (in Lilongwe) which also serves the Central Region.

 The purpose of this Division is to monitor and assess the quality of surface water and groundwater resources and controlling water resources pollution in the country. This is done by checking compliance with the Malawi Standards (MS) recommended for drinking water and the wastewater to be discharged into the environment.

 Water Supply Services

Water Supply Services

The specific objective of the sub sector is to increase availability and accessibility of potable water for socio- economic growth and development. The purpose of the Department is to facilitate provision of potable water and improved on-site water - related sanitation services to rural communities and supervise the technical services of Water Boards for urban water supply.  In line with the National Water Policy and the Decentralization Policy, these services are provided through decentralized institutions like District Councils and Water Boards.

The main functions of the department include the following:

         Formulating/initiating sector policies, strategies, setting technical standards and procedures for the provision of water supply services

         Planning, designing and construction of water supply schemes

         Training of communities in proper operation and management of water supply systems

         Providing technical advice to all Water Boards regarding new developments, operations and maintenance

         Promoting water-based sanitation in all water supply schemes


         Supporting professional training and capacity building of engineers and technicians in the Sector.

Irrigation Services

3 Irrigation Services

The overall irrigation policy goal is to contribute to sustainable economic growth and development by enhancing irrigated agricultural production. The broad objectives of the irrigation sub sector include;

         Increase land under sustainable irrigation farming;

         Extend cropping opportunities and facilitate crop diversification;

         Create an enabling environment for irrigated agriculture;

         Optimize government investment in irrigation development;

         Enhance capacity for irrigated agriculture in the public and private sectors;

         Promote a business culture in the small-scale irrigated agriculture sector.


The subsector has Eight (8) Irrigation Services Divisions in Karonga, Mzuzu, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Salima, Machinga, Blantyre and Shire Valleys and 27 District Offices.

Sanitation and Hygiene

Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion

The mandate of this subsector is to facilitate the development and implementation of Sanitation and Hygiene Initiatives and Programmes which will enable the Government of the republic of Malawi (GoM) create a clean, safe, healthy and sustainably managed environment in line with the Sector Development Goals (SDG), Malawi Growth Development Strategy (MGD), Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and any other relevant protocols and conventions.

The specific objective of the sub sector is to enable the GoM:

         Achieve increase universal access to improved sanitation, promote use of safe hygiene practices, encourage proper waste disposal and recycling of waste in cities, municipalities, towns, market centres and peri-urban and rural areas;

         Develop capacity for effective sanitation and hygiene promotion in cities, municipalities, towns, market centres and peri-urban areas;

         Provide facilities and build capacity for sanitation and hygiene promotion in schools and other public places;

          Ensure safe disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous liquid and solid health care in order to protect health care workers, the general population and the environment;

Management and Support Services

Management and Support Services Departments

The overall objective of these departments is to provide policy direction and support services to the Technical Departments. These departments comprise General Administration and Management, Human Resource Management and Development, Finance and Planning.

5.6    Water Boards 

There are five Water Boards which are parastatal organisations reconstituted by an Act of Parliament, Water Works Act No. 17 of 1995. These Water Boards are in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe, while the remaining three are Regional Water Boards, in the northern, central, and southern regions of Malawi. These Boards are mandated to provide adequate supply of wholesome water and quality services to urban areas in an efficient and effective manner.

the key objectives of the Water Boards as stipulated in the Ministry's Strategic Plan (2013-18) are to increase the volume of water produced, reduce Non revenue Water (NRW), improve commercial efficiency, and the population with improved accessto water supply (particularly in low-income areas).