Uganda’s new cities demand for financial autonomy

Uganda’s new cities demand for financial autonomy

By Kitts D.Mabonga


The stakeholders among the recently launched new cities have demanded that government grants them autonomy to independently manage their financial budgets so that they can effectively run these new cities to the expected standards.

The call has been made by several mayors and technical officers among the newly created cities like Mbale ,JinjaGulu and Arua while attending a two day high level policy strategy  on rural to urban migration and urban expansion planning that was held at the Golden Tulip hotel in Kampala.

DISCUSSING URBANIZATION POLICY ISSUES; The Mayor of Koboko Municiplaity Dr. Sanya [left]  chats up with one of the technical officers shortly after day one.

The meeting was organized by cities Alliance which is a global partnership that was created to support cities to contribute to sustainable development among its 34 members based in Brussels Belgium and was financially supported by Swiss development corporation [SDC] and the World Bank among others.

It was moderated by Dr.Brigitte Hoermann who is the migration specialist at Cities Alliance were several experts made key presentations.

The Cities Alliance country representative Mr.Samuel Mabala told the delegates that included city Mayors, town clerks, engineers, physical planners and surveyors among other technical people that his body   is involved in several programs in Uganda running for the last 10 years.

LIVE DISCUSSION; The commissioner Urban development in the ministry of lands, housing  and urban development Pade Joseph Walter on left while opening the conference as the Cities Alliance Uganda country program representative Samuel Mabala on right. the two  sandwitched   Dr.Brigitte Hoermann who was speaking via zoom.

Some of programs include supporting government develop the national urban policy, several municipalities were able to formulate own cities development strategies which is a  30 year strategic planning instrument.

Cities Alliance was very instrumental in providing preparatory support for the Uganda support to municipal infrastructure development [USMID] and now they are supporting four cities in the country to plan for the future expansion to accommodate the influx of the population of migrants who are expected into the cities the next 30 years.

This development Mabala said is being done in collaboration with New York University Marwan Institute which has conducted comprehensive research of over 4,000 cities to try to study the trends of urban growth.

Among others  things it established that the rate of urbanization was happening  very fast in the developing World and currently Uganda is estimated at 18%  urbanized and urbanizing at 5.2% per annum which implies that urban population was likely to double in the next 12 years.

‘what is more worrying is the  spatial expansion that as population increases and  doubles chances are that the surface area will increase by a factor of 3% and 4% and we don’t have that kind of land to accommodate increasing numbers thus the implication is to plan earlier for the future’ he lamented.

A new planning approach designed by the New York University experts called urban expansion planning entails several key aspects like to project the population growth in the next 30 years and establish the demand of land that will be needed for arterial works, define the extent of horizontal expansion in a given city so that that extent is defined boundaries established then and identify environmentally sensitive areas that need to be preserved because when city is developed their areas that must be preserved  like hill tops for water storage tanks to allow water flow, wetlands in management of human waste, planning  for the grid over arterial roads 30 meters but stretched one kilometer apart.

The beneficiary Cities are Arua, Gulu,Jinja and Mbale were Cities Alliance is currently working and hopes to expand into the others later.

These cities will need to buy land for future development among those corridors of proposed development earlier enough in advance because it is cheap and located among rural localities of which they must protect less the mafias move to grab it.

The program focuses on utilizing the capacities within the cities to guide them in doing the best planning so unlike the conventional planning methodology were consultants are hired, they have set up an urban expansion team composed of physical planners, statisticians, engineers, surveyors, environmentalist and GIS specialists who would do the job.

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