Rapid rate of urbanisation in Malawian cities and other cities in Africa could affect the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), delegates to the 11th African Policy Cycle (APC) meeting held in Lilongwe has warned.
The delegates further warned that the high rate of urbanisation is bringing about challenges that affect the long-term sustainability of life if measures are not taken to manage the rapid growth.
The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust co-hosted the meeting with Tanzania-based Policy Research for Development (REPOA) with technical support from Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) and financial support from Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS).
Held under the theme; Sustainable African Cities of the Future, the 11th APC meeting brought together international and local delegates who, for two days, sought to find solutions to the effects of urbanization in areas such as transport and mobility, water and sanitation and solid waste management.
APC believes addressing these critical issues, through civic engagement and collective responsibility, is important for a healthy and sustainable livelihood of people in highly urbanized cities.
NICE Trust Board Chairperson, Dr Zolomphi Nkowani, called upon governments and city councils to pay particular attention to issues of urbanization and sustainable cities of the future and plan accordingly.
“NICE Trust, by being a member of APC, it sees the platform as critical in supporting citizen participation in policy processes and engagement in development including sustainable urban development.
“As a champion of democracy and good governance through educating the public to participate in public life, we will make use of the ideas generated from APC platform including the 11th meeting. We will integrate them into civic education campaigns as one way of ensuring that Malawi benefits more from APC,” said Nkowani.
Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Joseph Mwandidya, who was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony, acknowledged that cities in Malawi have indeed been highly affected by urbanization as people continue to migrate to cities to seek various opportunities.
“Consequently, problems of informal settlements and provision of essential services to the entire population in cities have become a daunting task. For instance, we are witnessing resultant effects of poor sanitation and poor management of solid wastes because our cities are overwhelmed with rapid urbanization,” he said.
“At the same time, our cities have not lived up to the billing in terms of proper urban planning and reinforcement of its own bylaws that deal with issues of informal settlements. These challenges need solutions if we will have the future sustainable cities in Africa,” he added.
KAS senior official Martina Kaiser said rapid growth of cities poses a lot of challenges on infrastructure, roads, transport, traffic, environment, health, security and affordable housing.
“We need to come up with best practices in order to improve the way we do things. We need to learn how others elsewhere do things in order to find sustainable solutions to these challenges,” she said.
APC is a network that provides a platform for African civil society, in particular think tanks, to work together and develop new solutions to African problems.
The APC takes a transitional approach to governance issues, but also strives to empower its members to inform and influence policy at the country level.
It values collaborative learning processes and the production of robust, evidence-based research to support common positions and policy recommendations on critical African development issues such as human rights and good governance, illicit financial flows, natural resource governance and localising SDGs.
According to the 2016 African Economic Outlook report, Malawi’s major challenge to meeting urbanisation is how to meet demand for housing and their basic services despite limited resources.
“The country is one of the least urbanised in the region, but the 3.8 percent urban growth rate is higher than the overall population growth rate at 2.8 percent. However, urbanisation presents an opportunity if its potential to transform the economy can be harnessed,” the report reads.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :