John Aubrey Chirwa


  • DEV

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Personal profile

Areas of Expertise

Development communication, humanitarian communication, media studies, critical discourse analysis, media representation of gender, solutions journalism, humanitarian journalism, policy-making, climate change, disaster risk reduction, decolonising research methods, citizen science and global development.  


I am an Academic, a multi-award-winning Journalist and a Development Communication specialist, with special interest in using my professional background and research skills to help vulnerable communities become more resilient to climatic shocks such as tropical cyclones.

Currently, I'm engaged as a Doctoral Researcher in Global Development at the University of East Anglia (UEA), with funding from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission of the UK Government. My PhD explores the role of participatory communication in disaster risk reduction in Malawi, a continuation of my Master’s research thesis which looked at policymaking processes and how that affect the practice of communication in disaster risk reduction programmes. My interest is on the interface between policy, communication and citizen voice in disaster risk reduction national initiatives in Malawi. My goal is to contribute to resilience building of vulnerable groups living in disaster prone areas.

In the last decade, I have worked as an environmental journalist at Nation Publications Limited (NPL), a leading print media organisation in Malawi (2012-2023). I have also worked as a Lecturer of Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of Malawi (2021-2023) and as an Adjunct Lecturer of Language and Communication Skills at Mzuzu University in Malawi (2018-2020).

My goal is to contribute to the socio-economic development of Malawi by using communication as a tool for development. As such, I founded Mutifu Language and Media Consultancy to help improve institutions’ reputation, media visibility and branding. Some of the beneficiary institutions include the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Youth and Society (YAS), Find Your Feet (FYF), Development Fund of Norway, and the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Education Department.

Over the years, I have received several awards, scholarships and studentships. These include the prestigious Commonwealth PhD Scholarship at UEA (2023 to 2027), the Chevening Masters Scholarship (2020), both funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK Government; the Stellenbosch University PhD studentship to study Geography and Environmental Studies (2023-2025) which I turned down; the Earthwatch Neville Shulman Awards (2021); Columbia Journalism School Data Storytelling Award (2018); Media Institute of Southern Africa Best Journalist of the Year awards in reporting Disaster Risk Reduction (2018), Medicines (2017), Pediatric and Adolescent HIV/Aids (2020) and Education (2020).

Apart from that, I have published my research work with Routledge and other journals, and I have also presented my papers in various forums, including the ‘First International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability’, at the University of Botswana in September, 2021.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, University of East Anglia

28 Sep 202029 Sep 2021

Award Date: 3 Dec 2021

Bachelor of Arts, University of Malawi

Award Date: 27 Oct 2012

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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