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C h a p t e r 1 6 Sustainable Urban Development: Managing City Development in Uganda Shuaib Lwasa Although traditional urban centers existed in Uganda before colonization , developing around the seats of reigning kings and their governments , urbanization with a western touch only surfaced in the nineteenth century as administrative centers and agricultural markets were established. This history is important in understanding the evolution and management of urban development in Uganda because the development pathway was influenced by the colonial legacy. Urbanization has accelerated recently as migration into towns increases driven by civil crisis, environmental problems, and natural growth. This rapid urbanization has increased the imprint of urban settlements across the country and raised sustainability issues that require innovative management strategies. Urban centers are legislatively categorized as city, municipality, town council, town board, and trading center. Uganda has only one city, Kampala ; it continues to exert its primacy over lower-level urban centers, absorbing 39.6 percent of the nation’s urban population. A key feature of urban management in Uganda is the decentralized political power and devolution of decision-making to democratically elected councils. Although these local council-based decisions are expected to improve urban management, decentralized urban administration faces challenges of adequate social service provision, promotion of economic development, housing delivery, urban governance, spatial development guidance, and environmental management. This chapter addresses urban management issues and how they relate to sustainability in Uganda. The chapter also compares Uganda’s experience with cities in sub-Saharan Africa. Sustainable Urban Development in Uganda 277 Evolution of Urban Development in Uganda ‘‘Urban’’ is subject to a broad range of definitions (IBRD 1994). In many countries, the definition is based on a threshold number of inhabitants in a defined geographical expanse, ranging from a few hundred to more than ten thousand. Some countries define urban using a combination of criteria, such as population density, political function, and/or predominant economic activity of the area. In Uganda, the Local Government Act 2002 defined Kampala as the only city, with the remaining municipalities or town councils making a total of seventy-four urban areas. But it is important to note that there are many centers with urban tendencies that are not defined as urban in Uganda. The definition of urban has been changing over time. In 2002 urban areas were divided among cities, municipalities, and town councils; the 1991 census even included trading centers with more than 1,000 people as part of the urban population (UBOS 2002). ‘‘Urban’’ is, therefore, largely a statistical concept determined by the country’s policy. A city, on the other hand, is more than just large numbers of people living in close proximity to one another; it is a complex political, economic, and social entity (World Resources Institute 1997). As noted, Kampala is the only city and is the administrative, commercial, and industrial hub of the country. Its size, nature of development, and national importance provide a basis for evaluating sustainable development. In Uganda, the population living in urban areas has increased from 635,000 in 1969, to 938,000 in 1980, to 1.9 million in 1991, to 3.7 million in 2007 (UBOS 2002). Urbanization has been slow in Uganda but despite the slow rate, it poses the challenging task of ensuring environmental sustainability, especially in metropolitan areas. Due to changes in the criteria used to define urban centers, it is difficult to compare regional and countrywide urbanization, a difficulty that obscures the increasing densities of settlements defined as urban before 1991 by the national census. Changes in the administrative boundaries of certain urban areas also make such comparison challenging. Although it is not properly documented, urbanization did occur in the precolonial period. In Buganda, where administration was based on the institution of kingship, the seat of the king was a settlement sufficiently orderly and populous to count as urban. Settlements were laid out systematically for different classes of the population. The 1900s saw deliberate efforts to establish towns that were planned from Western perspective, and throughout the period up to the 1970s, urban development revolved around the legacy of controlling development with stringent laws that also segregated social groups. A clear and elaborate urbanization process took shape during Ugan- 278 Cases in Urban Development Table 16.1: Growth Rates of Selected Urban Centers in Uganda (in percent) Urban center 1948–1959 1957–1964 1969–1970 1980–1991 1991–2002 Kampala 10...


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