Lilongwe stakeholders were consulted regarding their challenges and needs relating to rivers. These findings informed all project activities and further areas of engagement.
FACTS & FIGURES
- The population of Lilongwe is close to 700 000 people.
- The main rivers in Lilongwe are the Lilongwe, Lingadzi, Nankhaka and Chankhandwe Rivers.
- The Lilongwe River is the biggest and longest river and the primary source of water for Lilongwe city residents.
The Lilongwe Urban River Revitalisation Plan was developed in close partnership with the Lilongwe City Council, as well as community members, through intensive public participation processes. We are now implementing components of this.
The methodology used to develop the Lilongwe Urban River Revitalisation Plan was as follows:
- Stakeholder identification to highlight all key participants for engagement throughout the project (these include national government departments, private sector, NGOs, Lilongwe City Council officials, vendor associations, community members and market traders).
- Extensive consultation, engagement, site visits and small meetings held with all key stakeholders in order to assess the challenges and opportunities of the site, and provide key inputs into the design and functionality of the space.
- A draft and then final implementation plan was shared with stakeholders, allowing concerns to be taken into account and project ownership ensured.
- Extensive engagement to develop a phased implementation strategy (with an associated budget) through a prioritisation exercise of the numerous activities presented under the plan.
Outputs that contributed to the Lilongwe Urban River Revitalisation Plan are:
- A site analysis;
- A phased implementation strategy (with accompanying budget); and
- The establishment of a steering and technical advisory committee that oversees the implementation of the plan.
The City of Lilongwe’s Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was updated and completed. In addition, keyholders were introduced to the Building Capacity for the Subnational Implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) project and information was gathered to feed into this project. Impressive Guidelines for an Integrated Approach in the Development and Implementation of National, Subnational and Local Biodiversity Strategies has been developed by ICLEI CBC and partners.
During the development of the Lilongwe Urban River Revitalisation Plan, waste management was prioritised by city stakeholders, and accordingly a waste management strategy is being rolled out for a portion of the Lilongwe River.
Activities implemented to date include:
- Awareness and capacity building around waste management and the importance of protecting urban natural assets;
- Training 12 women in composting;
- Establishing compost areas and
- Conducting waste clean-ups.
A focus area of this implementation is to improve human well-being through livelihood creation, e.g. through sustainable compost making and using waste in the production of art pieces.
To date a variety of lessons for implementation have been learnt. These include:
- Improved understanding of the immense effort and time needed in order to effectively build partnerships and relationships.
- Recognising that in certain contexts it may be helpful to see informal areas as unserviced rather than unplanned.
- How specific projects, like this river revitalisation project, that rely on multi-stakeholder engagements, can assist in bridging the divide between city officials and community members.
- How important co-production processes are, where all stakeholders have the opportunity to influence the design, planning and implementation of projects, particularly in relation to ensuring project ownership and buy-in.
- That there are often structured governance systems in place in informal areas that can be harnessed for successful project implementation.
- Enhanced understanding of procedures and processes vital to the success of implementation projects in African cities.
- The role and effectiveness (or non-effectiveness) of on-the-ground activation or pilot projects.
- The importance of context specific information in participatory planning.
In order to document the change at the site (through the implementation component described above), Photovoice has been used. Photovoice is a qualitative method used for community-based participatory research to document and reflect reality. It is an empowering and flexible process that combines photography with local level action. Participants involved in Photovoice include community members of all ages and status. Participants are asked to express their points of view or represent their communities by photographing scenes that highlight themes (e.g. change at the site). The photographs are then collaboratively interpreted through discussions in both small and large groups, and narratives can be developed that explain how the photos highlight a particular issue and aspect. The photos and narratives are then used to promote dialogue and mobilise change-makers (e.g. policymakers) to better understand the community, and thus develop effective solutions that address contextual issues and needs.
Mapping services for the City of Lilongwe began in 2016 and include developing:
1. Wildlife sightings and biodiversity maps;
2. Habitat distribution maps;
3. Land use change maps and information to showcase the spatial extent that the Lilongwe River and its catchment has been degraded in relation to land practices;
4. An urban natural asset priority map, which showcases areas for no development and limited development;
Note: The priority UNA hotspot areas (identified by dark red) refer to areas where development should be avoided at all times. The high priority areas (identified by red-orange) is where development should be avoided at all times. However, if this is unavoidable then no net loss of vegetation needs to be ensured. The habitat needs to be enhanced post development. The middle priority areas (orange) refer to areas that can be developed however it is advised that the habitat be enhanced after development. The low priority areas (yellow-white) refer to areas where development is advisable. It is still advised that habitat is enhanced during and after development.
5. A risk assessments relating to climate change impacts for the Lilongwe catchment;
6. A water quality overview for sections of the Lilongwe River; and
Note: The red blocks refer to a poorer water quality whilst the white dots refer to a better water quality.
7. Planning recommendations based on priority natural assets.
Through this process ICLEI Africa has developed a methodology for assessment, selection and identification of priority areas in urban areas, which considers where urban expansion will most significantly affect natural habitat and biodiversity. A guideline to discuss this method and lessons learnt will be developed in 2018.
The UNA Rivers project aims to mobilise governments in the project cities to create plans that integrate the role of biodiversity and ecosystems in sustainable urban development. In Lilongwe, we have:
- Held effective cross-sectoral dialogues, e.g. between land use planners and environmental officers, and
- Conducted capacity building on the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the need for natural assets to be sustainably managed via integration into development policy and planning systems.
After presenting the urban natural asset information that ICLEI Africa developed for Lilongwe, a participatory exercise was undertaken. This involved asking the questions below to different stakeholders. Their consolidated answers are also given below:
How is mapped urban natural asset information valuable to you?
- It is crucial for planning and decision making.
- It improves consideration of environmental issues when reviewing policies and by-laws.
- It supports the mainstreaming of environmental issues into implementation projects.
- It improves communication campaigns that are aimed at a community level.
- It provides opportunities to relate issues of biodiversity and planning.
- It provides a clear link between biodiversity, climate change, land use change and resilient cities.
- It identifies high risk areas where development should be controlled.
How can mapped urban natural asset information be used in your everyday work?
- For better enforcement and preservation of natural areas and resources.
- For guiding the rehabilitation of sensitive areas.
- We can provide better advice to prospective developers.
- To provide a baseline from which to plan and keep track of environmental change.
To showcase the economic value of sustainably managing urban natural assets.
Overarching strategic achievements
Other higher level achievements in Lilongwe include:
- The establishment of a steering committee and technical advisory board (made up of city representatives) to deal primarily with managing urban rivers in the city.
- The facilitation of dialogue between different sectors, e.g. land use planners and environmentalists.
- Co-developing new ways for city officials to engage with and view informal areas in the city.
- Creating many transformative spaces for improved dialogue and processes (such as land use planners and environmental officers engaging for the first time etc.)
- Improved co-ordination between key stakeholders that work with natural assets in the city.
- Receiving council approval for the project activities whilst building strong partnerships with politicians and decision makers.
- Engaging with national ministries to discuss the adoption of the UNA Rivers methodology by other urban centres in Malawi.
- Presenting on the importance of biodiversity and the UNA Rivers work to the International Women’s Association of Malawi.
- ICLEI Africa is in discussion with UNHabitat’s Green Space Programme in order to support implementation of waste management interventions along the Lilongwe River.
- ICLEI facilitated the attendance of Lilongwe at both the Resilience Cities Congress and the 23rd Climate Change COP. Prior to the Resilience Cities Congress, Lilongwe officials received training on EPIC-N.
- Challenging the way waste is viewed and dealt with; seeing waste as a resource that can be used to improve livelihoods, e.g. compost making.
- Directly improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty by enacting composting and waste management activities.
- Improved understanding of the socio-economic importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services to all levels of decision making within the city council.
- Improved understanding of the institutional framework and decision making processes in the City of Lilongwe (entry points for change identified).
- Established a team of focal points dedicated to the project.