Reaching the People in Zambia

IMG_5168-2Post by Kana Kudo, MURP candidate ’15, who interned in Lusaka, Zambia

The year 2014 is an important memorial year for Lusaka and Zambia: it has been 50 years since they achieved their independence from Britain in October 2014, and the capital city, Lusaka, celebrates its centenary in July. Because of these milestones, some of the events taken place this year were larger in size with more people involved.

Every August, a large number of Zambians celebrate Agricultural Day (first Monday in August) by participating in a five-day-long Agricultural Show in Lusaka. A lot of government officers in departments particularly related to agricultural work demonstrate how they can improve the current agricultural situation and how they operate their daily responsibilities. However, the show is not all about serious matters. As there are also a lot of food trucks and stands to sell clothes, toys and games, children also enjoy being at the festival.

The event takes place in a large open space, which is called Showgrounds with more than 200 acres in size allocated just for the annual event in Lusaka. Although Lusaka is facing a shortage of land especially for residential and agricultural use, the vast area is unused for the rest of the year.

IMG_5147-2This year, my office, Lusaka Province Planning Authority, took part in presenting what we do to make the lives in Lusaka Province better. One of the important tasks that our office has is development control to investigate who has planning permits to develop structures, such as housing units, wall fences and swimming pools. As more than ten thousands of people join the event in general, we figured that it would be a great opportunity to inform the public of how important it is for homeowners to apply for permits in order to avoid demolition of structures.

I have attended the Agricultural Show twice before, in 2011 and 2012, but the number of participants was definitely the largest this year. Unlike any other year, I saw a lot of stands presenting the celebration of the 50 years of independence.

A large number of people who visited our stand learned a great deal about the importance of planning permits, as well as the planning projects we are working on. Sometimes it can be difficult to sensitize planning-related issues to local residents in Zambia, especially because some people do not have access to social media, such as the Internet and TV. However, after the event, I realized that a non-planning related event like this one can help. The key to success in sensitization or informing the general public may be how much we try to let them know. Because of our attempt at the show, I believe more local residents in Lusaka are aware of who we are and how we try to improve the current living situation in Lusaka through urban and regional planning.

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