Mzuzu City Council (MCC) says the tripartite land administration limits its powers to make critical decisions to avert natural disasters that have become frequent lately.
In all cities, land is administered by councils, Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) and Department of Lands.
Speaking at the International Disaster Reduction Day debate recently, MCC representative Augustine Gama said some areas the council declared disaster-prone end up being allocated to residents by other authorities.
He explained: “It is difficult for the council to make decisions over land which belongs to other players. Nonetheless, we ask residents to desist from settling in areas known to be prone to disasters.”
Gama said it would be easier to enforce policies that prohibit residents from settling in disaster zones if the council had exclusive rights to administer land in the city.
Rapid population growth and urbanisation is pushing residents to settle in risky areas.
“Many people are migrating to cities and some of them settle in cheaper areas which are usually waterlogged or vulnerable to landslides,” said Gama.
Following the 2016 floods and mudslides, the council earmarked 1700 households for relocation to safer areas.
But just about 400 new plots have been identified and many are reportedly refusing to move.
Dr Mtafu Zeleza Manda, a lecturer of physical planning at Mzuzu University, said persistent stand-offs between the council and those resisting relocation could be a result of lack of consultations and dialogue between the two parties.