Members of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) have once again been given an opportunity to participate in a second Connective Cities Dialogue event to be held from 7 to 18 September 2020. The dialogue event is being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The international cities platform, Connective Cities and its initiators, GIZ, the German Association of Cities (DST) and Engagement Global gGmbH with its Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) are inviting urban practitioners from Sub-Sahara Africa and Germany to take part in the Connective Cities virtual series on “Improving efficiency and effectiveness in the areas of water supply, wastewater management and urban mobility”.

UCAZ and Connective Cities last year jointly hosted a successful dialogue event which was held in Harare from 20 to 22 August. It was attended by 21 representatives from Zimbabwean local authorities as well as representatives of local authorities and national local government associations from South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia and Kenya and local government experts from Germany.

Background information on municipal service delivery in Sub- Saharan Africa

Urban growth rates have been much faster in some regions than others. The highest growth rate between 1995 and 2015 was clearly in the least developed parts of the world with Africa being the most rapidly urbanizing continent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of population living in urban areas has continuously grown over the last decades and has reached almost 40% in 2017 (World Bank). The urban population of the region is expected to increase fourfold, to 1.3 billion, by 2050 (United Nations, 2014). The growth rates in African cities signal a major challenge in their resource base, to build and sustain adequate infrastructure and public services for their growing populations.

The challenge of providing adequate basic services and infrastructure in African cities is central to the economic performance of cities, and their ability to provide a minimum quality of life to their citizens. The major services which cities provide include transport networks, water and sanitation connections, electricity, health, education, and a whole host of other ancillary services such as street cleaning, and the maintenance of public spaces among others.

A global survey carried out by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in 2014 on potable water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, urban transportation and energy indicated that as countries have improved their economic levels, they have tended to improve the proportion of their urban population able to access basic services. However, this trend has been uneven regionally, with Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia falling behind in urban water provision. The situation however, varies from country to country and from cities within a country. The survey confirmed that first, the provision of services does not meet the demand especially in poor countries. Secondly, there is an increasing trend of a number of attempts to find innovative ways of dealing with the infrastructure challenge. It highlights that public management remains the dominant approach to basic service delivery in most countries; and the role of local governments has been reinforced since the 1990s by decentralization initiatives and, even though cities may have the legal authority to undertake and manage large water schemes and large sewerage or electricity supply schemes, they do not have the human resources, let alone the large-scale capital and technical capabilities to keep up with rapid demand.

The UCAZ secretariat has circulated a Call for Expression of Interest for participation to all the Association’s members. For more details click here.