The first Malawi Urban Forum, held in Lilongwe from 8-9 December, brought close to 200 stakeholders to seek solutions to what is considered to be the most significant demographic and poverty dynamic in Malawi today - rapid urbanization and the urbanization of poverty.
The theme of the first Malawi Urban Forum was “Harmonious Urbanisation: the Challenge of Sustainable Urban Development in Malawi”, chosen in line with this year's World Habitat Day theme and also the focus of the World Urban Forum held in November, in Nanjing, China.
The forum zeroed in on Malawi's key urban priorities which include urban planning, shelter, energy and environment, gender, youth, disability, HIV/AIDS and public-private partnerships to promote sustainable urbanization. Meetings, which included a session for parliamentarians, were moderated by key experts.
Participants came from a many sectors and included government officials, members of parliament, local authorities, private sector organizations, urban utility providers, to civil society organizations, community representatives, universities, professional institutes, and other urban practitioners.
The forum exhibition featured best practices, case studies, urban applications such as Geographical Information Systems for urban development, water and sanitation systems as well as exhibits on housing, urban agriculture and community groups efforts. The meeting received wide media coverage; a special television programme and a live radio debate enabled the wider public to take part in the discussion on priority urban issues.
The level of support for this first urban forum in Malawi underscores the importance of addressing rapid urbanization in the country. Support was received from the United Nations Development Programme, the German development agency (GTZ), Action Aid, UN-HABITAT, the Center for Community Development (CCODE), the Malawi Institute of Physical Planners and the Malawi Government through its Ministries of Housing and Lands.
A number of resolutions were passed at the forum. These will be circulated in a comprehensive report which will be published television programme together with papers presented at the Forum.