Lilongwe wins international award on urban innovation

Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, has won the newly launched Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation for its creative ideas in advancing the livelihood of its residents.

The award was launched in March 2012 by the Guangzhou city of the Peoples Republic of China and is co-hosted by the Guangzhou Municipal Government and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).

Lilongwe, which has about 800 000 inhabitants, won the prestigious award alongside four other developed cities of Seoul in South Korea, Vancouver of Canada, Vienna of Austria and Turkey’s Kocaeli.

Each of the five award winning cities received US$20 000, a trophy and a special certificate.

Acting chief executive officer (CEO) for Lilongwe city council, Vito Mulula

“The award means that Lilongwe City has a viable and innovative strategy which if well implemented would enable the city compete for investment and resources at a scale never experienced before in Malawi,” Lilongwe City Council, Acting Chief Executive, Vitto Mulula said.

The award was opened to all world cities and local governments and upon submitting its application Lilongwe was among the 15 cities shortlisted to showcase their innovations at an international Urban Innovation Conference which also took place in Guangzhou on November 16, 2012.

“The Lilongwe City continues to call upon all stakeholders including development partners to actively take part in the implementation of this city development strategy by funding specific projects of their interests,” added Mulula.

Lilongwe City Council won the award because of its innovative program- Lilongwe/Johannesburg Mentorship Program- which started in 2008.

According to Mulula, in the mentorship program, the City of Johannesburg provided the much needed technical support which helped Lilongwe work towards developing her City Development Strategy (CDS).

Despite winning the award, the garbage situation in Malawi’s capital speaks volumes of a crumbling city than one on the road to glory.

A recent snap survey by Nyasa Times revealed that the council had almost stopped collecting waste in most parts of the city, forcing residents to dump garbage anywhere they want including along roadsides, market places and streams.

City officials claim the high demand for garbage collection services is as a result of massive people movement into the city from rural areas.

The council has about 10 refuse collection trucks but currently only eight are reportedly working to serve the city’s residential areas in addition to the over 40 markets.

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