Can you drink the tap water in Malawi?
In general, no.
The US Center for Disease Control's travel advisory recommends avoiding tap water and drinking bottled or disinfected water in Malawi (source).
Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.
What do people in Malawi think about the tap water?
Don’t drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Don’t drink from streams, rivers, and lakes. It’s also best to avoid drinking from pumps, boreholes, and wells; some bring pure water to the surface, but the presence of animals can contaminate supplies. Bottled water is widely available, except in very remote areas, where you should carry a filter or purification tablets.
Traditional Malawian food revolves around one staple, maize, served in one form, nsima (n'SEE-ma). Nsima is basically a type of thick porridge, rolled into balls with your right hand and dipped into a variety of stews known as relishes. Those who can afford them eat relishes of beef, chicken or fish, but the many who can't make do with beans, tiny dried fish (usipa), pumpkin leaves (chibwabwa) and other vegetables. At breakfast, nsima can be served watered down into a soup, maybe with a little sugar. Local restaurants will serve nsima and relish for less than MWK2000 (USD3).
Tap water in major cities like Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu is generally safe. Ask at the lodge/house you're at. Some travellers with weaker stomachs may be advised to avoid this drinking water. Bottled water is plentiful in all the major shops.
The most commonly searched cities in Malawi are:
For a full list of cities in Malawi, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.
World Health Organization Malawi Water Summary
The World Health Organization estimates that 69 percent of Malawi have access to drinkable tap water.
World Health Organization's 2017 Malawi Water Data
The World Health Organization data on water quality and availability throughout Malawi includes the national average, averages for urban population centers, and averages for rural areas.
|Safely Managed||A location that safe, drinkable water that is free of biological or chemical contaminants available on premise.|
|At Least Basic||Safe drinkable water is available within 30 minutes from the location|
|Limited||It would take more than 30 minutes from the location to access safe, drinkable water.|
|Year||Population in 1000s||Safely managed||At Least Basic||Limited|
What Do People In Malawi Think About The Tap Water?
Travelers and residents of Malawi have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data.
A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.
|Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility||60%||Moderate|
|Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility||40%||Moderate|