Today is World Urbanism Day (WUD), which is an occasion “to promote the role of planning in creating liveable communities in urban areas that include locations with relatively high human populations”. WUD is an excellent opportunity to look at urban planning from a global perspective”, and act accordingly to advance public and professional interest in urban planning.
Also known as World Town Planning Day (WTPD), November 8 “gives an opportunity to draw attention to the environmental impact resulting from the development of urban settlements”.
What all this means is that World Urbanism Day – and, indeed, every other relevant opportunity – should be used to promote public policies, regulatory frameworks and functional development practices that support positive urbanisation principles.
These include providing for neighbourhoods that are compatible with each other despite diverse backgrounds; facilities that cater for pedestrians and vehicular traffic alike; physically-defined and universally-accessible public spaces and community institutions; as well as “architectural and landscape designs that respect and celebrate local history, climate, ecology and building practices”.
Call it urbanism, if you like – which is usually about how inhabitants of urban areas such as towns and cities interact with the built environment.
It is a direct component of disciplines such as urban planning – which is the profession focusing on the physical design and management of urban structures – and urban sociology: the academic field of study of urban life and culture.
When all is said and done, the primary focus of urban planning is to make urban centres healthy and liveable for their inhabitants, all of whom share common, positive factors.
These include – but are not limited to – providing a variety of housing options for its residents; adequate areas for leisurely walking and other outdoor activities, including recreational areas and fitness facilities; affordable and readily available public transportation for all who need it; schools, health-care centres, utilities supplies, shopping facilities, etc.
Good urban planning also ensures orderly and all-inclusive socioeconomic development that is meaningful and sustainable on the ground. World Town Planning Day was founded in 1949 by the late Professor Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires.
In due course of time and events, WTPL evolved into World Urbanism Day – and Tanzania has not been left behind in the town planning stakes... At least, in theory, we say.
We say so if only because an October 2018 study report by the World Bank – and titled Translating Plans to Development: Impact and Effectiveness of Urban Planning in Tanzania Secondary Cities – concluded that “the lack of effective development controls, planning review systems and mechanisms, and resources for enforcement contributes greatly to ineffectiveness of the plans”.
We think this is partly the cause of the proliferation of petty traders – dubbed machingas – wreaking havoc in urban centres by hawking their merchandise every which way in unauthorised places, including street pavements, licensed formal shop fronts, open/public spaces, etc.
This is most unfortunate in a country where 35.23 percent of its population of 59.734 million in 2020 lived in urban areas – and, unless and until we take immediate action to surmount the challenges involved, the number of and the damage by machingas will adversely overwhelm us.