New Approaches to Physical Planning in Zambia

Did you know that Zambia is recognised as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most urbanised countries with nearly half the population living in urban areas?*

Despite municipal growth, there has been little in the way of effective physical planning for many years, largely due to resource constraints and outdated legislation. This lack of planning structure has led to a boom in unplanned settlements, difficulties in service provision, inadequate data, and poor planning credibility.

Zambia’s New Planning Bill
Making strides to solve this, the Ministry of Local Government and Housing recently undertook a review of planning legislation and drafted a new bill. When enacted, the Urban and Regional Planning Bill will fundamentally reshape planning in Zambia, extend planning controls across customary and state land, and designate all local authorities as planning authorities.

This change means planning authorities will need to prepare Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Local Area Plans (LAPs) for their districts. To implement this effectively, the country needs to prepare a major programme of capacity building, increase the number of planners and provide them with the skills to administer the Bill and effectively engage with local communities.

Support for Capacity Development
As part of a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Programme, Urban Planning Consultant Tom Wesseling worked as a Physical Planning Advisor based in Kabwe. He says: “The VSO programme objectives are to strengthen the capacity of physical planning at all levels of government in Zambia and establish planning based on sound information and analysis. They want to ensure that proposals are realistic in financial and programming terms and that plans will be implemented with the participation of local communities.”

Tom developed a guidance note for the development and a good use of a capital investment programme model as part of the IDP and LAP processes. This shows how participatory budgeting, betterment levies and other innovative funding and phasing mechanisms could be used to finance new infrastructure in a feasible way.

In addition, he assisted in the implementation of the IDP for Kapiri Mposhi, a small town north of the capital, Lusaka: “The IDP outlines guidance for the town’s growth over the next ten to 15 years and includes environmental, economic, social and institutional factors through a series of policies, a spatial strategy and an action plan.

“What’s so interesting about this work are the challenges faced by the district. A rapidly growing population means increased demand for school places, jobs and healthcare. The IDP, due for completion later this year, needs to identify sufficient land, address infrastructure shortfalls and provide sufficient housing.”

Making Room for Local Challenges
But that’s not all. The Kapiri Mposhi district is currently too reliant on the government as an employer, so needs to develop a more sustainable, diverse and dynamic economy. Investigations into larger scale commercial farming and value-added activities, mining, tourism and the expansion of the township as a strategic transport hub are needed.

Other complications include threats to the natural environment from flooding, deforestation, habitat loss and erratic climate, plus sub-standard infrastructure and limited access to local facilities. Indeed, the social infrastructure within the Kapiri Mposhi district falls far short of basic requirements. Currently, only 16% of infrastructure within schools for example is considered good.

Addressing these shortfalls will require capital investment and sound project management. The action plan put together with our support puts Zambia firmly on the starting line.

For more information on our work in Zambia, please contact [email protected]