Development of rural roads in Malawi



Malawi has a road network of 24,929 km, out of which 20,856 km are from gravel/earth. The road infrastructure is the most dominant transport mode in the country, facilitating the majority of passenger transport and internal freight transport. However, the majority of district roads are still in poor condition and are vulnerable to changes in the climate, particularly in rural areas. This inadequate road infrastructure entails a constraint on Malawi’s growth and economic development.

In this context, the Government of Malawi intends to overcome these challenges and a number of interventions have taken place in the country to improve the quality and further develop the country’s road infrastructure. One of them, currently implemented by NTU, is the EU-funded Technical Assistance to Rural Roads Improvement Programme” project. With a  duration of 40 months (from 2018 to 2021) and a budget of EUR 2.765.650, it aims at providing technical assistance to establish organisational financial and technical arrangements which would create sustainable conditions for roads management at district level in Malawi.

How we are doing it

NTU is implementing different activities to support the Ministry of Transport and Public Works (MTPW) which consist in the establishment of policies, institutions and other technical and financial systems.

In particular, NTU is supporting in the rehabilitation of 1,200 km of district roads in 12 selected districts through labour-based reshaping, spot improvements and bridge works. For that, we are developing technical standards for district roads, as well as appropriate manuals, guidelines and other tools required by district councils and agencies working on road maintenance. We are also preparing standard tender documents for procurement of construction and maintenance works at district level.

NTU is also advising and supporting the MTPW in elaborating and operationalising its policy and strategies on rural roads, in particular the Devolution Strategy. Advices are being provided in relation to handling human and physical resources currently associated with rural roads in the context of devolution, to setting out the institutional framework for rural roads improvement and maintenance, and to developing systems for annual planning and prioritisation of road maintenance.

Additionally, activities are being undertaken for the improvement of the capacities of the stakeholders at different levels. For this purpose, NTU is implementing capacity building actions, such as trainings, on-the-job support, workshops, targeting:

  • district-level institutions to enhance human and organisational capacities regarding planning, managing and monitoring rural roads rehabilitation and maintenance at district level
  • senior staff at national level regarding innovative technical and institutional aspects in rural roads rehabilitation and maintenance for sustainability
  • technical workers involved in road rehabilitation and maintenance at district level and below


The work of NTU within this project is contributing to creating sustainable conditions for rural roads in the context of devolution of responsibilities for the management of district roads. With the support provided, the districts in Malawi will be eventually empowered in the management of the road networks, which will contribute to the future improvement of road infrastructure in the rural areas. This can have immediate impact on the linkages of rural population to markets through access to economic and social resources thanks to rehabilitated and sustainably maintained rural roads.

Training workshop to district council personnel

Rural roads in Malawi