Urban Planning: preliminary thoughts about Mparo, Rukiga - By Davis Muhumuza

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Urban Planning: preliminary thoughts about Mparo, Rukiga - By Davis Muhumuza

  Plan it very well today, for future generations


Urban Planning is the arrangement of space. It mainly aims at design, management and administration of land use activities.  The fundamental aim of Urban Planning is to secure the right use of land in the interest of the community and enable the settlement of functions as efficiently as possible. Its purpose is to ensure that development takes place in a planned, orderly and effective manner.


It is further to enhance physical landscape, improve and maintain the integrity of urban form and enhance equitable distribution of services to the community. When urban areas are allowed to self-develop without guidance, the result is chaos and waste of valuable land- the evolution of slums.  They become places of despair and mischief.


Rukiga District being a newly created administrative area, and being more of a rural economy depending mainly on agriculture for trade and commerce, will call for a multidisciplinary action to tackle the existing socioeconomic situation such that an organized urban form is attained. While Uganda is undergoing rapid urbanization in spite of pervasive rural and peri-urban poverty, with acute scarcity of resources for implementation of development programs and projects, the Master Plan will draw examples from other newly established districts to attain a stable economic base that will sustain its growth and development.


In the absence of planned development, Mparo Town Council, the new District Headquarters, may instead become a center of disorder manifested through urban defiance, poor housing conditions, inadequate access to services, unemployment/underemployment, urban crime, environmental degradation and social decadence among other undesirable consequences.


The Master Physical Development plan will, among others, look at different sectors that will work as engines of development and will act as magnets to attract investments in Rukiga District. Participatory Planning will be highly advocated for as it’s a Constitutional requirement that demands people to participate in the decision-making process. The National Objectives and Directive Principles of the State Policy, Section (X): Role of People in Development states that: “The state shall take all the necessary steps to involve the people in the formulation and implementation of Development Planning and Programmes which affect them” (Constitution of Uganda 1995). Therefore, the planning process will involve the communities from the grassroots levels as they are the owners and implementers of the new district.

More specifically, Mparo Town Council is concerned with the following:


  • Formulation of land use and project proposals that are internally compatible and complementary to the socioeconomic proposals outlined in the National Development Plan as well as the Development plan of Rukiga Local Government.


  • Integration of ecological principles as an important component of the land use planning and environmental management process. Adoption of appropriate land use and project planning approaches to the development of a unique and modern Town.


  • Maintenance of the ecological integrity of the biophysical environment. Ensure the sustainability of various social, economic and environmental aspects that make a functional neighbourhood.


  • Creation of orderliness in the layout of activities in the Town and therefore discourage haphazard development.
  • Control of the demands on the infrastructure systems, particularly road networks, water supply and sewage disposal, and ensure efficient use of existing and proposed systems.


  • Promotion of community participation in planning through information sharing and consultative and collaborative mechanisms.


  • Increase of the value of Land in and around Mparo by providing a unique development pattern.


  •  The primary output of the project will be an integrated physical development plan including land use and project proposals and implementation strategies.


    On completion, a coherent and comprehensive planning framework to guide development activities will be established. This will allow for the rational allocation of land resources among competing uses and interests, and for consistency in the regulation and control of development activity. As well, the Town Council will facilitate promotion of efficient and timely development and coordination of the programs and investment activities of individual, public and private sector agencies involved in implementation of the project.



    The composition of Mparo Town Council will concentrate on the following sectors:


  • Administrative and Governance. Mparo has been the Headquarters for Rukiga County and has vast expanses of land. The Local Governments Act, 1997 and The Local Governments Amendments Act 1997, calls for a planning authority under the District Council. The Rukiga District Planning Authority shall in addition to the procedures it establishes for itself, work according to the guidelines established by the National Planning Authority. It shall prepare a comprehensive plan incorporating plans of lower level Local Governments for submission to the National Planning Authority.


    There shall be a Rukiga District Technical Planning Committee chaired by the Chief Administrative Officer. Other units shall be created, mainly; the Finance ?? which shall be the secretariat to serve the District Technical Committee. For better clarity we should all read the Local Governments Act, 1997 to be well conversant with the establishment of administrative units in Uganda.


  • Infrastructure and Technical Department. This will be charged with public infrastructure and amenities like Roads, Water and Energy and will employ personnel like the Engineers, Surveyors, Physical Planners and Environmentalists among others. Mparo is connected to Kabale District headquarters using the Mparo- Murukiri road and to the rest of the world using Mparo Muhanga road. These roads are not tarmacked and can be a challenge to use mainly in the rainy seasons. 


  • Production and Marketing. Rukiga at large will need functional elements that will raise revenue to be able to sustain its economic base and raise standards of living of the community. Rukiga has been known to contain fertile soils that are used for growing crops and rearing domestic animals. These shall promote the establishment of agro processing industries, mainly packaging and export of foods and beverages. Value addition to our products will fetch high prices on the international market thus the communities will earn revenue that can be used to uplift the living conditions of the community.


    Production will also call for increased commercial and industrial activities in and around Mparo such that goods and services are brought nearer to the community. The industries shall also provide centres of employment for the communal members. Mparo - Noozi road will promote commercial diversity. Pure commercial centers shall be identified and promoted to develop in a harmonious manner that is not detrimental to the environment.


  • Housing and Urban Development. Mparo contains a countryside character littered with settlements in a homestead setting. Many settlements are on a family-to-family basis with no given hierarchy. Families have family land utilized in harmony with the family character normally with the head of the family controlling family land. Much of the Land is still under customary ownership and families partition it when a family member, mainly a young man, wants to build his own dwelling. For effective urban growth, the customary land shall be converted into free hold tenure and individuals will be given a right to own land in perpetuity.


  • This will give security to the urban form and developers shall be guided on how to develop the land in relation to other land uses. Mparo will have different zones with different land uses aiming at sustainable growth and development. Zones for commercial, industrial, housing, institutions, environmental sensitive areas, farming and agro forestry/ forestry will be delineated and by laws shall be enacted to manage and guide the developers.  


  • Environment and Natural resources. Mparo has vast land containing physical features like mountains, streams, forests and wetlands. These make Mparo unique and they need preservation and protection. The bare mountains need to be reforested and agro forestry shall be promoted.


  • Streams and rivers shall be harnessed for increased vitality in irrigation schemes and growing of vegetables and fruits for packing and fruit/juice extraction industries.


  • Institutions and Recreation. Mparo has the Mparo Health Center IV, though other institutions like Technical institutes are lacking. Mparo has no centers for recreation apart from the playgrounds and other rudimentary bars. Thus concerted efforts are needed to come up with other centres of recreation for all age groups. These will, among others, contain Children’s parks, Entertainment and Skills development centres.
  • Civic and communal centres.  These will address the police and prisons, centres of worship, community centres and markets.  

    Planning must be based upon knowledge; knowledge depends upon information and information, in this context, depends upon the methods of administration and the manner in which its results are communicated.


     In addition to information on land itself, information on its current and potential uses are important for sustainable human settlements planning and development management. Allocation and distribution pattern (location and in proportion to total land-use) of residences, commerce, industry, institutions, (government, educational, health, and other social institutions) and recreational open-spaces are of utmost importance. The relative location, allocation and distribution pattern of land uses have implications for the total urban environment, and accurate information on these is necessary for effective development planning.


    Administratively, Mparo will have a Vision Framework with a Mission Statement aiming at achieving a planning Goal relating to financial, infrastructure and environmental objectives.

    A simple, pragmatic and detailed strategy shall be in place indicating how the plan objectives and overall planning goal will be achieved by outlining what will be done by whom, when and how. It will serve as a checklist that will be regularly updated monitored and progress on it shared among the stakeholders. The strategy will also help to coordinate and guide implementation actions, support coordinated and collaborated efforts, minimize duplication and promote synergies.


    The Prerequisite for the Successful implementation of the Plan shall be successful accomplishment of the following:


    • Ü Ownership of the plan by all members.
    • Ü Political will at the National, Rukiga District Local Government and, most importantly, the Village/ Town Council level.
    • Ü Increased private sector involvement in the Plan’s implementation.
    • Ü Sustained annual and quarterly planning and commitment of resources.
    • Ü Behavior change, patriotism and progressive reduction of corruption.
    • Ü Effective monitoring and evaluation to support implementation.


      The modalities to implement this physical development plan will be in accordance with the existing legal and policy framework and will include:

    • Public financing and investment;
    • Public-private partnership;
    • Private enterprises;
    • Nonprofit organizations’ initiatives like CBOs and NGOs and international institutions like the World Bank;
    • Overall supervision and coordination of all activities by the Town Council.



Mr. Davis Muhumuza is Physical Planner.  Born in Mparo, Rukiga, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Planning from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda in 2002.  


Level 20 (XP: 19250)
Excellent information that we need as a basis for developing a well-planned District Headquarters, and a town that will be enjoyed by future generations. Thank you Muhuumuza.

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