By Patrick Soko
The Government of Zambia has affirmed its commitment to effectively implement the New Urban Agenda, a UN-Member States agreed vision to transform how people construct, manage and live in urban areas for a sustainable future.
Minister of National Development Planning, Alexander Chiteme, made the assurance to the International Community this week when he delivered Zambia’s statement at the First Session of the UN-Habitat Assembly in Kenya under the sub-theme: “Accelerated implementation of the New Urban Agenda towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Chiteme said Zambia, like other developing countries, was affected by rapid urbanisation, currently estimated at 42 per cent and projected to increase to 60 per cent by 2050.
He said this posed challenges for sustainable management of human settlements hence Zambia was working on measures to address the situation.
“Zambia considers the following as critical to achieving the New Urban Agenda: (1) addressing rapid urbanization in its multiple facets; (2) aligning development plans with the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals; (3) promoting innovative resource mobilisation, such as capturing the increase in land and property value generated from urbanisation; and (4) strengthening partnerships and coordination between UN-Habitat and other development partners,” Chiteme said.
The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) adopted the New Urban Agenda in Quito, Ecuador in 2016 aimed at making urbanisation well-planned and well-managed for a better and more sustainable future.
The Minister said Zambia made positive strides in implementing the New Urban Agenda.
He said with technical support from UN-Habitat, Zambia was preparing the National Urbanisation Policy (NUP) whose vision is ‘Prosperous, Inclusive and Resilient Urban Settlements’. Zambia has so far contributed USD 238,682 to UN-Habitat towards the process, which is in the final stage.
He said Zambia was implementing the Seventh National Development Plan (2017 -2021), which acknowledges the need for sustainable urban development and recognises urbanisation as a key driver to national economic growth.
Chiteme said Zambia was preparing the Integrated Rural Development Strategy (IRDS) to address rural development challenges and focuses on reducing developmental inequalities and promoting rural-urban linkages.
“We are promoting urban renewal and participatory slum upgrading to improve infrastructure and service provision, and the quality of life in unplanned urban settlements,” said Mr. Chiteme. “Development of the Disaster Risk Management Framework to avert disasters associated with urbanisation. We are implementing the Systematic Land Titling Project (SLTP) to improve security of tenure through issuance of title deeds in peri-urban areas, with a target of 5.2 million titles by 2022.”
Chiteme said traditional authorities were being engaged to preserve cultural and natural heritage against potential disruptive impacts of urban development and to enter into Planning Agreements for customary land.
And UN Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif thanked the Zambian Government for its support to the organization’s work in Zambia.
In an appreciation message to Mr. Chiteme after the bilateral meeting with Ms. Sharif on the margins of the UN-Habitat Assembly, the entity’s chief commended the Government on Zambia for its commitment to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Urban Policy.
“We also reiterate our commitment to the participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) in the country,” said Ms. Sharif.
Mr. Chiteme led the Zambian delegation on behalf of his Local Government and Housing counterpart Hon. Vincent Mwale. The National Development Planning Minister was accompanied by Local Government and Housing Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga and other senior Government officials.