Q & A on the growth of slums with Tanzanian urbanist Alphonce Kyessi

alphonce kyessi-March4-2013(1)Alphonce G. Kyessi is a researcher and consultant in the field of human settlements planning, development and management. He is currently employed as an associate research professor at the Institute of Human Settlements Studies at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam. His areas of research include housing, urban poverty, public transport, urban agriculture and urban environmental planning and management.

Question 1: What is urban planning and how is it being used in developing countries?

Answer: Urban planning is a reconciliation of social and economic aims, of private and public objectives or an art of anticipating change, and arbitrating between the economic, social, political, physical and spatial which determine the location, city and effect of urban development.

Urban planning or sometimes refered to physical and spatial planning, which can also be defined as the art and science of altering the use of land and sitting of buildings and communication routes so as to secure the maximum practicable degree of economy, convenience and beauty. It’s also the allocation of land resources to attain maximum efficiency, while paying heed to the natural environment and the welfare of the community.

Structure planning originated in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. It addresses a broader range of social, economic and physical development and allows a more flexible base for the preparation of local plans. For example, a modified form of structure and local planning is being introduced in Dhaka, Bangladesh and is geared to giving urgent guidance to a rapidly expanding city for which the existing master plan is completely outdated.

In the third world, strategic planning has been used in the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. In Tanzania, strategic planning has been used in the planning of Dar es Salaam, Makambako town and Songea municipality.

Question 2: How does Arusha and Moshi compare to other cities in Tanzania and Africa when it comes to planning?

Answer: There are some similarities in the way Moshi and Arusha are urbanizing, which resembles other cities in Tanzania and Africa in general. Spatial planning is lagging behind urban development, resulting to unplanned and informal urbanization. The needs of the people are not met due to unsustainable land use planning.

Question 3: What does the proliferation of unplanned settlements and slum areas mean to these cities?

Answer: This means the growth and expansion of unplanned slum settlements that these cities are overcrowded and lack technical infrastructure, or services such as roads and drainage, water and sanitation, as well as social infrastructure services such as schools, health services, open spaces and playgrounds.

Question 4: How do these two cities work on regulating the growth of slums?

Answer: Several interventions are being implemented. These include: preparation of environmental profile and economic investment programs, strategic or master planning, formalisation of informal settlements, infrastructure improvement, as well as capacity building for good urban governance including land development control.

Question 5: Arusha is one of the fastest growing cities in East Africa, how many people are actually moving to the slums?

Answer: On November, 2012, Arusha officially transitioned from municipality to city status, despite the urban development challenges it continues to face such as slums and unplanned settlements. Like other African cities, Arusha is also urbanising fast. Currently, the city is the capital of the Arusha Region and claims a population of about 500,000 people, but this is projected to reach about one million by the year 2015. Right now 70 per cent of the population resides in unplanned slum settlements.


Adam Bemma is a journalist, humanitarian, and media consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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