Centre for Community Organisation and Development (Ccode) has as k ed Membe r s of Parliament under the Transport and Public Works Committee to push for cabinet approval of National Housing and National Urban policies which have been abandoned for over six years.
If approved and passed, the two policies will guide urbanisation growth in Malawi and deal with issues of slums in the cities among others. Currently, Malawi has no policy guiding urbanisation growth according to United Nations Human Settlements Programme.
“We have no urban policy. It is just a draft since 2010. We want the MPs to help us to have these policies fast0-tracked. We want them to raise awareness to fellow MPs about the need to have the policies,” said Ccode Policy and Advocacy Manager, Wonderful Hunga, at a working dinner with the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Works in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
United Nations Habitat Programme Manager, John Chome, said it was unfortunate that Malawi has shunned development of cities over the years increasing poverty among its people. Chome said urbanisation creates wealth as highly urbanised countries are wealthier than highly rural countries.
“Only 20 percent of the population live in urban areas while 80 in rural. Levels of urbanisation are low. Malawi has shunned development of cities but now we must begin to see urbanisation as an opportunity for creation of wealth. Malawi needs urbanisation,” said Chome, adding: “Cities generate the bulk of Gross Domestic Product.”
All the MPs that spoke during the meeting accused Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and city councils of poor planning of the cities.
“As a country, we are not serious as far as city planning is concerned. If you look at Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu cities, they are probably the worst planned cities in the world and yet we have planners,” said Werani Chilenga, a member of the committee.
Another member, Enock Chihana, MP for Rumphi Central, concurred with Chilenga, adding that city authorities legitimise buildings put at wrong places perhaps because of corruption.
But City Development Strategy Manager for Lilongwe City Council, Gift Kasamila, said city authorities fail to do their work as expected because of lack of funds.
“Complaints have come regarding our cities. Our major problem is funding. We are failing to allocate plots because we do not have money. We are managers of the city on paper,” Kasamila said.
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