Can Participatory Communication make Disaster Risk Management in Malawi more effective?

13th May 2024

John Aubrey Chirwa


What role does Participatory Communication (PC) play in reducing social vulnerability among marginalised communities in Malawi? The research project seeks to answer this question, drawing on the promises of PC that it fosters inclusive, bottom-up, dialogic, and collaborative decision-making in development. The study therefore aims to identify communication practices that are currently being used in disaster risk management (DRM) in Malawi; assess the impact that they have in addressing social vulnerability; and examine the effectiveness of PC as an alternative approach to communication in DRM in Malawi. By employing a qualitative methodology, it is designed as a case study on two informal settlements in Malawi’s two major cities of Blantyre and Mzuzu. In these sites, the research will use participatory methods and tools such as focus group discussions, participatory photography, community mapping, risk ranking, diagramming, and timelines to co-produce knowledge on social vulnerability with communities. By placing people at the centre of research, the study seeks to theorise ways of integrating local and lived experiential knowledge into policy and practice, ultimately contributing to more inclusive DRM policies in Malawi.