About the Department of Surveys

The Department of Surveys is the National Land Surveying and Mapping Authority mandated to provide professional and technical services and advice to the government, public institutions, private sector and the general public on all matters relating to geo-spatial information (land surveying and mapping information).

Historically, the Department of Surveys was one of the first departments that were established by the colonial administration in the country.  Apart from the activities of land surveying and provision of topographic information (maps and charts) it was also responsible for among other things activities that are now covered by Departments of Lands, Physical Planning and Land Resources.  Over the years, the activities of the department have been streamlined to its present mandate as other departments and ministries were being established.

  1. Mandate

To provide geo-spatial information (land surveying and mapping information) to the country

  1. Vision

Timely and accurately provision of geo-spatial information (land surveying and mapping services) for socio-economic development of the country.

  1. Mission

To provide timely and accurate geo-spatial information for purposes of national integrity, security, safe navigation, dispute resolution, security of land tenure, disaster management and orderly and sustainable infrastructure developments in the country. 

  1. Organisation and Functions

The Department is headed by the Surveyor General at graded D (P2) who is assisted by three Deputy Surveyor Generals at Grade E (P3). The Department operates from its headquarters in Lilongwe.  It has also three Regional Offices in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu, Hydrographic Survey Unit in Monkey-Bay and District Survey Offices in Karonga, Zomba and Mangochi.

5.0 Functions of the Department

The functions of the department are to:

  • Provide land surveying services;
  • Provide mapping services;
  • Provision of hydrographic and aeronautical survey services;
  • Provide quality assurance and information management services; and
  • Provide general administrative support services.

Sections under the Department of Surveys

This Division is headed by Deputy Surveyor General (LSS) at P3 (E) grade and is responsible for the following functions-:

  • Provision of trigonometrical surveys
  • Provision of Topographic surveys
  • Provision of cadastral surveys

Trigonometrical and Topographic Surveys are responsible for;-

  • Establishing surveying  processing and publishing geodetic data.
  • Identifying and surveying of control points for mapping.
  • Field data capture for map revision.
  • Conducting scientific observations for earth movements and other displacements.
  • Carries out topographic surveys for engineering purposes such as planning, designing, setting out e.t.c.

Cadastral Survey section is responsible for :-

  • Demarcation and survey of administrative boundaries both local and international.
  • Survey of parcel  (plots)  boundaries for security of tenure.
  • Producing registry maps to support registration of title. 

The purpose of this division is to provide geospatial products (mapping) at various scales and land information and is organized into three units

  1. Land Information Unit is responsible for :-
  • Production and revision of cadastral plans and maps.
  • Creation and maintenance of cadastral database.    
  • Creation and maintenance of a comprehensive Land Information System.
  1. Map Production Unit which includes the photogrammetric and the cartographic sections is responsible for:-
  • Acquisition of mapping data.
  • Designing and production of maps , plans, images and mosaics.   
  1. Printing Unit is responsible for:-
  • Production of repromats.
  • Printing of maps photographs and images.
  • Printing of specialized geo-information products.

It is headed by the Deputy Surveyor General (Mapping) at P3.

This division is responsible for the production and revision of hydrographic charts for lakes and the major rivers and production and revision of aeronautical charts for safety of air navigation. The division is headed by Deputy Surveyor General (H&A) and is responsible for:

  1. Production and revision of hydrographic charts;
  2. Production of sailing pilots for safety of navigation on water bodies;
  3. Production of notices to mariners;
  4. Production and revision of aeronautical charts for safety of air navigation; and
  5. Establishment of airport survey controls and position of runways for safe navigation of aeroplanes.


  1. Current Hydrographic Survey Activities
  1. Collection of Nkhota-Kota Jetty Area bathymetric data for production of 1;10,000 scale nautical chart;
  2. Data collection and production of profiles and charts in major rivers like Lilongwe and Shire rivers; and
  3. Finalising servicing of the vessel.


  1. Challenges
  1. Inadequate funding to support survey activities and to manage the ship;
  2. Lake topographic maps, updating nautical charts is costly and requires adequate funding;
  3. Lack of specialised positioning equipment; and
  4. Lack of training.

The purpose of this division is to ensure that the surveying and mapping activities are carried out in accordance with the country’s geo-information standards and associated metadata standards   It is also responsible for archiving and disseminating geo-information to the general public   

It is divided into two units:

  1. Quality Assurance responsible for:-
  • Examination of field survey methods and computations.
  • Checking overlaps of newly surveyed properties with existing ones.
  • Ensuring adherence to standards.
  • Approving cadastral surveys of all private surveyors.
  • Policing illegal survey activities and map production.
  1. Spatial Information Centre responsible for:-
  • Archiving of Spatial Information   
  • Publishing Spatial Information
  • Dissemination and sale of spatial Information

This division is headed by Assistant Surveyor General at grade P4.