Dr Dorothy Tembo

Dr Dorothy Tembo


University of Malawi

Theology and Religious Studies

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Work and Research

Dr Dorothy Tembo is a Senior Lecturer in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at the University of Malawi. She holds a Ph.D. in Religions from SOAS, University of London. Her work explores the impact of Christianity on politics and society. Her FAR-LeaF research project is called “Faith and food in rural Malawi”.


Food insecurity is persistent in Malawi even during years of high food productivity. Generally, Malawians make their food choices based on faith, culture, and local traditions.


The majority of Christians in Malawi are constrained by traditional prescriptions regarding what should be consumed and, more importantly, how food should be produced and processed. Muslims must adhere to Halal food regulations. These practices have a significant influence on the availability of food, which in turn influences the health and well-being of individuals. This influence extends from the production of food to its accessibility, diet, preferences, and stability. In a country where food and resources are scarce, food and nutrition security cannot be adequately addressed without considering cultural and religious practices.


Dr Dorothy Tembo is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Malawi. Her FAR-LeaF research project is called Faith and food in rural Malawi.

Theological and religious studies are not done in a vacuum; rather, the studies aim to improve the lives of people in their communities. Food insecurity, resulting in decisions, is a multifaceted problem that can adversely affect human well-being, including child and maternal health, the quality of children’s education, and family participation in productive work. This situation threatens the attainment of sustainable development goals.


The multidimensional nature of culture and religion means that plans for achieving household food and nutrition security will be futile if these underlying causes are not properly understood and included in national policies.


She will evaluate the similarities and differences in food and nutrition security between Islam, Christian and indigenous beliefs, and practices; and critically investigate how local diets can prevent malnutrition. We will also be able to understand how the beliefs govern critical phases of human life such as pregnancy and infancy.


Her approach draws from cultural studies, religion, and human ecology to understand the intersection between religion and culture and food systems as sites for negotiations instead of competing forces.