Lilongwe - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Some people have been robbed when out for a walk/run. Some people have had windows down while driving and phones taken. Just use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep doors locked etc. Homes have barbed wire and 24-hour guard coverage as well as alarms. - Jul 2020

Malawi is critical for crime: it's one of the poorest countries in the world and thus, especially in the lean season, some people can become pretty desperate. I know of several attempts to rob Embassy or other diplomatic personnel or their families by machete (guns are very rare here). There has been an increase in politically related "violence" since the May 2019 elections. I would say that word is a bit strong, but there has been vandalism and looting following demonstrations, but also an increase in petrol bombing of the homes and cars of politically active people. Sometimes the violence has made its way into the housing areas where Embassy staff live. - Feb 2020

Malawi is critical for crime, but low across the spectrum for everything else. The RSO is fond of saying that Malawi is a country where the issue isn't a particular threat to the expat community but rather the lack of capacity to respond by the Government to any particular stress to the system. The police are mostly static with very few cars. They are flummoxed by any issue beyond basic investigating and note taking. There are minimal ambulances in the country and no functional 911. There is a no highway patrol. The fire department is always eager to play but they are minimally trained volunteers with poorly functional equipment and they may or may not have sold all of their fuel and/or water at the time that you call them to fight a fire. Consequently, while the local services are filled with people eager to try to do their jobs, the dependability and capability of these services is weak. Many supplemental folks (like local clinics) attempt to fill the breach with mixed success. Ultimately, Malawi is a country where you are the number one person responsible for your own safety and security. The safety net of modern society just doesn't seem to be here. - Sep 2018

Most people have 24 hour guards for their property. Due to the extreme poverty, there are a lot of crimes of desperation such a burglaries, robberies and purse snatching. Overall I feel quite safe here though. I go out for long walks by myself almost every day. - Jul 2017

Overall Malawi is very safe. The biggest personal security concern is driving and accidents. During the lean season, there are some home invasions but USG houses have 24/7 guards, barb wire, and alarm systems. Of course, one should always be aware of their surroundings and not flash a lot of wealth or cash. - Oct 2016

Malawi is a poor country so security concerns come from the discrepancy between most expats and Malawians. We felt very safe though. - Aug 2015

Worse in Blantyre than Lilongwe. Getting worse in Lilongwe but Areas 10, 12 and 43--where our housing is clustered--are still relatively safe. Lots of people walking and jogging at all hours. - Sep 2013

Because it's such a poor country, you always have to be careful about where you go and what you do. It's a cash economy, and things are expensive, so you carry a lot of cash around with you, and should protect it. I've heard of robberies, etc, but thankfully haven't had any problems myself. - Sep 2012

This is considered a dangerous post. We had 3 break-in attempts while we were living there, although none was successful. It is not nearly as violent as many other African cities. - Sep 2009

This is a really a very safe environment all around. House break ins do happen, but they often seem to be affiliated with household help or security. It is important to take security measures. There are occasional attempts at carjacking. - Jul 2009

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