Makambako District – History, Geography, Culture and More

Makambako District – History, Geography, Culture and More

Makambako District is a mid-sized city in the Njombe Province of the Southern Highlands in Tanzania, located about 40 miles away from Njombe city in the north by road. The town is at the junction of B4 and A104 roads between Mbeya, Njombe, and Iringa. Its population in 2002 was 51,049 according to the country census.

Makambako Background

Paul Theroux visited Makambako who in his book Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town called it a group of hovels having a paved road stretch where idle people stood or sat but not a town.

Makambako town has seen rapid development. Consequently, the northwest Wabena are campaigning for Makambako to get district status.

Makambako Tanzania Geography

The city is situated in the country’s Southern Highlands, about 40 miles in the north of Njombe, the district capital. Makambako Ward has settlements including Maguvani, Kipagamo, Ubena, Idofi, Ikwete Ilangboli, Mlowa, Lyamkena, Mkolango, Kigamo, Mwembetogwa, Kiumba, Mjimwema, and Kilimahewa.

Makambako Plateau is among Njombe District’s three agro ecological areas, the other two are the Njombe Plateau and the Eastern Highlands

Maize is regularly cultivated in the plateau, but on the other side Makambako is known for tomato growing and trade.

Makambako weather (weather Makambako) – Explore current and forecasted weather in Makambako today at


Ethnic Communities

Makambako town’s biggest ethnic group is the Bena. Their living structure includes huge, polygamous, extended households with averagely, beyond 5 children in a family. Cultivation responsibility is for women and most follow an occupation. Households headed by females depend mostly on subsistence food, working as “road hawkers” or with movable convenience food kitchens.


People speak Kisovi language, a dialect of the Kibena.

Education in Makambako

Makambako has various educational institutions such as primary and secondary schools and a university. A few of the primary schools include Azimio primary school, Lyayi primary school, Uhuru primary school, Makambako primary School, Umoja primary school, and Maendeleo primary school.

Some secondary schools include Lyamkena secondary school, Makambako secondary school, Kipagamo secondary school, Maguvani secondary school, MCF-Makambako girl’s secondary school, Naboti secondary school, Mukilima secondary school, Genesis secondary school, and Ngogo secondary school. There’s also St. Joseph University, Tanzania.

Medical Services in Makambako

The Archdiocese of Songea operates two medical dispensaries in the district, Kitanewa Dispensary in Kitanewa town and Makambako Dispensary in Makambako town. Makambako Parish is run by the Congregation of St Agnes, St Bikire Maria wa Huruma, and the Benedictine Sisters.


Road Network in Makambako

Makambako infrastructure
Makambako infrastructure

A 322 kilometre road connecting Songea to Makambako funded by the ADB was built from 1980 to 1985. There’s a daily fast bus service. A World Bank-funded trunk road connecting Tanzania to Zambia (Tan-Zam Road) completed in 1973 goes across the district.


The district is along the TAZARA Railway, the railway’s bridge section in Makambako was rumored completed at the beginning of 1973.

Civil Works

The district is the region’s main center for rural planning including having a Rural Service Centre, developers have been allocated thousands of plots here after surveying. Councilors at Makambako facilitate and plan other projects in the area.

Makambako got electricity connection in 1981, although, expensive costs of installation has made that by 1992, just 2 percent used electricity to cook and just 22 percent of people installed it. ABB-SAE Sadelmi, an Italian organization, put up high-tension power lines including rehabilitating the National Grid between Mbeya and Makambako.

In 1992, UNICEF offered financial and technical support for a piped-water supply project, although even on completion, it wasn’t adequate, necessitating continued dependency on potable water on dams, streams, and boreholes. The Makambako Shallow Wells Project is expected to ease the problem of acute water shortage. GEF/Small Grants Programme under whose auspices the project is organized, began in September 2008 but completion was hoped to be in December 2010. Ubena Cultural Reforms Association received a grant of US$36,799.

Tourism in Makambako

Hotels include:

Midtown lodge in Makambako
Midtown lodge in Makambako
  1. Midtown lodge
  2. Jay Jay Highlands Hotel
  3. Double Masemba guest house
  4. Villa Park Hotel
  5. Masemba guest house
  6. Manlucho Resort
  7. Makambako Lutheran Centre
  8. Mini Villa Park Lodge
  9. Maranatha Lodge
  10. Lupyana guest house
  11. DS HOTEL

Other Important Things About Makambako

    • Makambako to Mbeya – 3 hours and 2 minutes, 172.7 kilometers by driving through the A104
    • Distance from Iringa to Makambako – 2 hours and 58 minutes, 164.7 kilometers via the A104

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