Shortlisted project Know Your City: Lusaka 2030 - a city without slums

Lusaka, Zambia

To foster a sustainable working relationship between local government and slum dwellers in a bid to expedite the creation of an inclusive city.

The 2010 UN-Habitat forecast rates urbanisation in Africa as the highest in the world. By 2025, more than half of the African population will live in cities, including a significant number of the poor relocating from rural areas.

Established under the Memorandum of Understanding entered into by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, and Slum Dwellers International, the project seeks to encourage local government and community cooperation around issues of city planning and slum upgrading.

The project will address the urgent need to recognise that slums, informal settlements and their populations are part of the city and poor urban communities must be included in strategic decisions surrounding city planning and the provision of public services.

Shortlisted project

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2014 in the following category: Deserving Initiative. Learn more about the award.


City information

Size and population development
As of the 2010 census, the city has a population of 1,747,152. The population growth rate of the city is 4.9.

Population composition
Zambia's population comprises more than 70 Bantu-speaking ethnic groups. Some ethnic groups are small, and only two have enough people to constitute at least 10% of the population. The majority of Zambians are subsistence farmers, but the country is also fairly urbanised, with 42% of the population being city residents. The predominant religion is a blend of traditional beliefs and Christianity. Expatriates, mostly British or South African, as well as some white Zambian citizens (about 40,000), live mainly in Lusaka and in the Copperbelt in northern Zambia, where they are either employed in mines, financial and related activities or retired. Zambia also has a small but economically important Asian population, most of whom are Indians. English is the official language of the city, but Nyanja and Bemba are also common.

Main functions
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. One of the fastest-developing cities in southern Africa, Lusaka is in the southern part of the central plateau at an elevation of about 1,279 metres (4,196 ft). Lusaka is the centre of both commerce and government and connects to the country's four main highways heading north, south, east and west.

Main industries / business
The City of Lusaka constitutes the centre of national and social amenities such as University Teaching Hospital (UTH), University of Zambia (UNZA), National Resource Development College (NRDC), and National Administration (Cabinet), government ministries and provincial heads offices. It is also a seat of all diplomatic missions accredited to Zambia.

Sources for city budget
National Government, District Government and taxes.

Political structure
Lusaka District has seven Constituencies and thirty Wards. There are two indigenous tribes namely, the Solis and the Lenjes. The Wards are smaller geographical demarcations in the seven larger constituencies that constitute the broader boundary jurisdiction of the greater Lusaka City. From each constituency, one political leader is elected by popular vote as a Member of Parliament representing the community in the National Assembly, one councillor is elected in each ward and Two chief’s representatives are nominated to sit on the Council.

Administrative structure
District Administration supervises, co-ordinates and monitors the operations of Government departments’ parastatals and co-operating Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and collaborates with the Local Authorities, which includes the formulation and implementation of development projects and programmes in developing the district. This is done to promote integrated development planning through structure like District Development Coordinating Committee (DDCC). The District Council is the elected representatives’ Local Authority body comprising civic leaders who translate government developmental vision to communities and demands from the communities back to government in a transparent manner and it is responsible for policy formulation as well as delivery of service in a given geographical area.

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Background and objectives

Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. As one of the fastest developing cities in southern Africa, it is the centre of both commerce and government and has a growing population of urban poor living in slums and informal settlements.

Currently, a large and growing number of urban dwellers live in poverty as most African city development plans exclude slums and informal settlements. In almost all African cities, comprehensive information about slums and informal settlements are out dated or incomplete.

Addressing the need to enhance knowledge and data about informal settlements and slums, the project aims to provide community and government with the tools they need to better plan and manage their city in an inclusive manner.

The objectives of the project are:

  • improved availability of data and information for planning

  • enhanced capacity for slum upgrading for local authorities and communities.

  • knowledge management and sharing on slum upgrading.

  • establish social investment fund for urban poor communities


The lead agencies for the project are United Cities and Local Governments of Africa and Slum Dwellers International with significant resource support from Lusaka City Council. 

Representatives from the informal settlements are involved in the process and have directly contributed to the preliminary operations, signing of the Memorandum Of Understanding, preparation of budget and monitoring and analysis of data collection.

Specific activities of the programme include: 

  • engage urban poor communities to work with participating local authorities to develop inclusive cities. 

  • map & enumerate all households in informal settlements and slums that are under threat of eviction and/or have been identified for upgrading. 

  • increase public knowledge & information of urban poor informal settlements and slums

  • design and establish urban poor investment fund

The key tools used for data collection are community led enumerations and GIS mapping.

Financing and resources

The total budget allocation is $USD126,123 and is provided by:

  • United Cities and Local Governments of Africa  - international NGO, implementation partner and grant recipient

  • Slum Dwellers International  – international NGO and joint implementation partner

Other resources are provided by:

  • People’s Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia – local NGO and implementation partner, provides technical assistance to the Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation

  • Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation – local communities representative, responsible for community participation and the enumeration activities
Results and impacts

The project has brought about significant change including:

  • inclusion of informal settlements in the city’s planning agenda (local/national)
  • provision of accurate baseline information about the history, social and physical conditions in informal settlements and slums. 
  • increased communication between government and communities (local/national)
  • the real lives and living condition of slum residents have been made visible (local/national)
  • creation of service delivery strategies that directly addresses poverty (local/national)

The project is being assessed through the measurement of:

  • improvements in service delivery

  • progress in the creation of a national slum upgrading strategy

  • number of informal settlements legalised

  • number of community meetings arranged by Lusaka City Council addressing development issues

  • progress in the creation of an Urban Poor Investment Fund

People’s Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia together with the support of Slum Dwellers International continually monitors the effectiveness of the partnership between local government and the urban poor communities. 

Barriers and challenges

The main challenges are:

  • time limiatations

  • limited materials

  • obstacles surrounding community mobilisation and training

  • insufficient funds and irregular fund disbursement

All stake holders and the community representatives are working together to resolve issues as they arise.

Lessons learned and transferability
  • Community participation has proven to be vital in the sustainability of this project and is key to any future partnerships between informal settlements and government.  
  • Transparency is critical to the success of any project. Subsequently, the  project budget is shared with all relevant stakeholders.
  • The project revealed communities work side by side with city officials provides a well-rounded approach to information gathering.

Lusaka, Zambia, Know Your City - A 2030 City Without Slums, Guangzhou Award, 2014

External links / documents