Cities for all – shaped by all
Fatima Nkhuwa is working to help her neighbourhood in Zambia. Her goal: for her neighbourhood to have a greater voice in urban planning.
Around two thirds of the inhabitants of Zambia’s capital Lusaka live in densely populated, informal settlements. They often lack clean drinking water and adequate hygiene conditions, causing residents to fall ill. To ensure that water resources are used more sustainably and better protected, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supported the establishment of the Lusaka Water Security Initiative. The project was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with cofinancing from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Since 2016, private businesses, civil society and the Zambian Government have been working together to find solutions to improve living conditions in the city.
23,000 households can have a voice
An important element for achieving better living conditions in Lusaka are the ward development committees. Their members are directly elected from among their local communities. This enables residents to raise the needs of their communities during discussions and to participate in city council decisions. 460 community representatives were given training to get involved in the committees and supported in gaining a better understanding of their civic rights and responsibilities. They reached a total of around 23,000 households, which are now helping to shape the future of Lusaka. In the George Compound settlement in western Lusaka, for example, residents said that the water supply was at risk due to vandalism and the theft of wells and pumps. In response, the Lusaka Water Security Initiative improved protection for the infrastructure and raised community awareness of crime prevention.
Every perspective is valuable
Fatima Nkhuwa served as a member of one of the ward development committees for two and a half years. ‘No matter what the issue is – be it electricity, security, water, sanitation, hygiene or health – the committees provide support,’ she says. The committee members act as intermediaries between the city council and residents, so it is important that they learn who to approach and how to apply for funds to improve their individual situations, she adds. And she values the different perspectives in the ward development committees: ‘There are also blind people and people with impaired mobility in our groups. Social cohesion has been strengthened because so many different needs have been considered.’ Parents who cannot afford the school fees for their children, for example, will be able to take advantage of financial support in the future. For Fatima, this bottom-up approach is the way to go: ‘This is the only way we can be sensitive and inclusive in urban planning.’