Nkhotakota district is one of the nine districts in central region and has a 2008 estimated population of 301,868 (NSO, 2008 population and household census), growing annually at 2,8 % (1998-08) which is the same as the national figure. This is a reduction from the last avg growth rate of 3,4 % (1987-98). In the 62,468 households, 54 % of the population is under 18 years. Each household averages 4,8 persons. 65 percent of the population in the district lives below the poverty line. The table below shows population distribution by sex, district, TA, STA and town:
Climate and Vegetation:
The district receives an annual average rainfall of about 1400mm but might fall as low as 860mm to as high as 1600mm. Steady rains falls within the months of December, January, February and March. The Average monthly maximum temperature of 28.7 degrees Celsius and minimum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. The warmest month of the year is November while the coldest month is July.
The district’s vegetation is Savannah type of vegetation, which is predominantly of Miombo woodlands (Brachystegia tree species such as tsamba, miombo and mtondo. Vegetation coverage is estimated to be at 80% of the total land of which 41.9% is under protected areas (Game Reserve and Forest Reserves). The vegetation has been modified by the processes of urbanization, farming and fishing, and it is punctuated by exotic trees such as mango and blue gum.
The rivers supply water for crop production (especially winter cropping), fish farming and domestic use. However, some of the minor rivers in district dry up even before the dry season since most of the riverbanks are bare (deforestation)
Tribes, Language and Religion
The Chewa Tribe is the main ethnic group in the district, which is about 70% of the population. The Chewa are mostly found in the Centre and South of the district. Two other tribes, Tonga and Tumbuka, are also present in the district especially in the Northern part of the district representing approximately 25% and 5% of the population respectively.
The most popular and widely used language in households is Chichewa being the language of the Chewa tribe. The other languages mostly commonly used for communication with households are Chitonga the language of the Tonga Tribe, and Chitumbuka, the language of the Tumbukas.
74% of the population in the District are Christians making Christianity the dominant religion in Nkhotakota and it is followed by Islam. Moslem are mostly found along the lakeshore unlike Christians are based in the upland areas.
Religion plays a very crucial role in development by initiating and implementing development projects, and supporting formal and informal development institutions. There are also several religious organizations, which are effective in instilling the spirit of hard work among local communities in the undertaking of development activities.
Witchcraft is very common and practiced in the district. On the rampant is the teaching of the practice to the children. To certain extent, the practice has a negative impact on development. Since some of the potential and skilful members of the community shun away from development projects for fear of being. Thus retards community participation in development.