By HOMELAND MEDIA NEWSROOM
The government has been advised to put more emphasis on urban planning if the country is to achieve the benefits of urbanisation.
Speaking to journalists during a media engagement held at Golden Tulip hotel on Friday, Samuel Mabala, the Urban Advisor at Cities Alliance highlighted that Uganda, just like many Sub-Saharan countries continues to face the challenge of poor urban planning, something he says continues to result into urban poverty.
Mabala said there’s need to prioritise urban planning for Uganda to overcome urban poverty and consequently realise the dream of hitting the much-anticipated middle-income status.
“About 70% of our GDP comes from cities and the urban areas and this should give the government the reason to rethink its strategy on urban planning if the country is to hit the middle-income status as anticipated,” Mabala said.
He added, “We need to plan ahead. Without planning, we’re going to have all these challenges in terms of slums, urban poverty, poor sanitation, crimes, and all kinds of flooding and disasters,”
Mabala applauded the government’s strategy of creating more cities which he said is a move in the right direction but challenged the government to adopt the strategy of creating more compact, well-connected and highly efficient cities.
“But again when we create more and more small towns everywhere despite the investment and then we don’t gain the benefits of urbanisation. We need cities which have high numbers of people, we need compact cities because if we don’t have compact cities, then we’re throwing the opportunity of developing vertically. There is space above which we need to utilise,” he said.
On her part, Cities Alliance’s Country Manager Deborah Asikeit, pointed out that their main goal is to help cities improve lives of urban populations as well as find solutions to urban poverty by supporting national and local governments.
In Uganda, she highlighted that most of the work Cities Alliance does is to address the challenges of urban development.
Asikeit revealed that currently, the organisation is undertaking six projects, with the Kampala-Jinja Expressway No one worse off project (KJE-NOWO) being their major project.
“In Uganda, we’ve been here for over 11 years now. While we opened our country offices in Uganda in 2019, Cities Alliance was working here in Uganda for the past 11 years. We have some of the interventions undertaken before 2020 as well. We have implemented six projects although we have two running at the moment,” Asikeit said.
The KJE-NOWO Project is being implemented by Cities Alliance with funding from the European Union (EU) delegation in Uganda.
As an implementing agency of the KJE NOWO project, she said Cities Alliance’s role is to clear the right of way for the construction of the Kampala Jinja Expressway while ensuring that the lives and livelihoods of the project-affected persons are not adversely affected.
The main informal areas in the way of the KJE are Kasokoso and Kinawataka which require the relocation of nearly 3,000 people.