Life in the Fringes: Economic and Sociocultural Practices in the Zambia–Malawi–Mozambique Borderlands in Comparative Perspective

GovInn’s Deputy Director Chris Nshimbi published the article ‘Life in the Fringes: Economic and Sociocultural Practices in the Zambia–Malawi–Mozambique Borderlands in Comparative Perspective’ in the Journal of Borderlands Studies.

This paper examines the cross-border sociocultural and economic activities of the inhabitants of the contiguous border areas of Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique (ZMM), in order to compare perceptions towards each of these practices by various actors including informal cross-border traders (ICBTs), ordinary inhabitants of the borderland communities of these countries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and state and local authorities, among others. The specific sociocultural practices in question include the accessing of social services, fulfillment of sociocultural needs/obligations, and the economic activities, informal cross-border trade. Legislations, policy reports and scientific publications are thoroughly reviewed and interviews with key policymakers, ICBTs, and locals are conducted. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of data collected from the interviews is also performed. Various actors generally regard accessing social services (such as education and health) across borders by nationals of neighboring countries as normal and “acceptable” practices while some forms of informal cross-border trade are regarded “unacceptable.” However, both sociocultural and economic actors engage in cross-border activities out of necessity, convenience, for survival, and as practices which they, being inhabitants of the borderlands, have traditionally followed. Representatives of state and local governments in the adjacent provinces of the contiguous borderlands should form transboundary coordinating committees through which to establish sustainable and effective burden-sharing and service provision systems, to meet the socioeconomic needs of borderland inhabitants.