Uganda Launches Development Plans For Arua And Gulu Cities

The development plans cover the period 2022-2040.

By Sneha A on
20th September 2023

The government of Uganda, working in partnership with the Global Green Growth Institute Uganda (GGGIU), has launched physical development plans (PDPs) for the new secondary cities of Arua and Gulu in northern Uganda.

The PDPs, for the period 2022 to 2040, aim to address key infrastructure needs as well as land usage within the cities to support expanding populations, stimulate economic growth and promote sustainable development.

The PDP for Arua covers an area of 401 square kilometres, while that for Gulu city covers 245.2 sq km.

As well as the GGGIU, the National Physical Planning Board (NPPB), the National Planning Authority, the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development were involved in developing the PDPs.

The PDPs articulate the cities’ high-level land use and form, and set out the desired growth pattern, identifying spaces and allotments for various land use activities and services in the city regions. 

They also seek to ensure that green building codes and green growth is mainstreamed in the development of the cities.

Some of the key land uses include housing, industry, commerce, green open spaces and agriculture while services include energy, transport, education, healthcare, waste management, water and communications. 

The GGGIU will design about four projects for each city to address the most pressing infrastructure deficits as well as the areas with the greatest green growth impact.

The development of the PDPs has been funded by the EU under a three-year, US$5.5 million programme to advance the 'Greening Uganda’s Urbanization and Industrialization’ agenda. Launched in 2020, it aims to promote green city development, green industrialisation, efficient waste management and green growth integration into planning and budgeting. 

In addition to Arua and Gulu, the programme focuses on green city development in Jinja and Mbarara, and green industrialisation at Gulu, Entebbe, Pakwach and Soroti.

Gulu city physical development plan
Gulu city physical development plan
Source: GGGIU

A development progress/impact monitoring mechanism called the City Urban Development Score Card has been developed to help the city administrators track and report progress towards attaining the development targets.

Arua city’s PDP is considered especially important due to its strategic location on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Why is Arua important? It is a border city,” said Ronald McGill, project lead for the Greening Uganda’s Urbanization and Industrialization scheme, at the launch on 14 September. “The trade between Uganda and DRC is critical and that border crossing is open. It’s a thriving area. When we talk about PDPs, we’re now trying to go to the next level of detail to articulate how these growth points will be planned carefully.”

Arua city physical development plan
Arua city physical development plan
Source: GGGIU

“There is no city that wants to be like Kampala,” said Amanda Mgabirano, chairperson of the NPPB, at the Arua city PDP launch. “It’s about order; it’s about planning.”

The GGGIU has also been working on development strategies for the cities of Mbarara in the west of Uganda and Jinja in the east. 

“We’ve been working on the investment projects for four cities; Arua and Gulu are the ones with the new PDPs and Mbarara and Jinja, they already had [PDPs] and we’re just [focusing] on the investment elements,” said Dagmar Zwebe, Uganda country representative for GGGIU. "The investments [range] from electricity generation with solar to waste management, which is a very important issue.” 

Top photo: Arua PDP launch ceremony (Source: Twitter/X @NPPBUG)

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