Every year, the African Planning Society (APS) sets legislative priorities, which it urges African governments to adopt for strengthening of African communities towards prosperity, sustainability, and inclusion. The year 2022 is crucial for planners given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on communities. APS set 2022 legislative priorities under the theme of pandemic recovery: Planning for Recovery Agenda. It has set four legislative areas that African governments should prioritise in the recovery process. Actions on these four areas paired with the work of planners at local and regional level present an opportunity for an equitable recovery and a resilient future for communities across Africa.
1. Economic Recovery
The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it an economic recession following national lockdowns particularly in towns and cities. The year 2022 is crucial for setting foundations for recovery and resilience. As engines of economic growth, planners can help with the recovery efforts in cities and small towns to utilise recovery spending and investments into initiative that impact social lives. As local governments suffered financially to provide for their communities during the pandemic, robust national recovery spending is crucial and coupled with planning expertise at local level communities across Africa can redevelop in a more equitable, more prosperous and more resilient approach. Given the significant level of informality that characterises economies in communities across Africa their consideration into formal planning is important for creating resilient communities. To triumph at economic recovery, African governments need to take bold actions in developing economic recovery and growth strategies for cities, small towns and rural communities. There is need to improve the ease of doing business in towns and cities that are currently trapped in bureaucracy.
2. Affordable Housing
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the housing crisis that was already crippling the African continent. As housing development halted during the national lockdowns, people’s incomes eroded for rentals and housing development, African communities are feeling the housing crisis even more while informal settlements continue to increase. Affordable and quality housing is essential for building prosperous communities and increasing economic mobility among African communities. Good planning, zoning reforms, building standards reviews combined with strategic investments in housing will help reduce the income gap and increase economic opportunities for all. We call African national and local governments to invest in housing affordability particularly for low and middle-income households. Local authorities need to incentivise housing development through zoning and building bylaws reform to ensure the regulations support housing affordability, availability and safety. Governments need to also incorporate housing programs in transportation projects to ensure transit-oriented development in African communities.
3. Transportation and Broadband
The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the gaps and vulnerabilities in the transportation system and internet connectivity impacting the productivity of African communities. The poor connectivity of public transportation during the Covid-19 lockdowns impacted communities’ access to opportunities. As most worked from home during the pandemic, broadband infrastructure for internet connectivity proved crucial for prosperous communities. Now it is the time for a new approach to ensure better mobility and connectivity in communities across Africa through reliable transportation and broadband services. This connectivity ensures better access to employment, education, healthcare and other services. We urge African governments to increase their funding on transportation infrastructure, coupled with smart planning to ensure sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and inclusiveness of the transportation system. There is also need to support integration of non-motorised transportation in African communities that include cycling and walking. African governments need to invest in broadband infrastructure to improve internet connectivity for African communities connecting people to opportunities.
4. Water and Sanitation
As any other pandemic, public health is fundamental to liveability of communities. The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the shortcoming in water supply and provision of good sanitation particularly in cities and towns under rapid urbanisation. As people in communities that had lack of clean water supply and good sanitation were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is need for good planning in the provision of such essential services in communities across Africa. Planners play a key role as conveners across disciplines to integrate water needs and challenges into local plans and regulations. As a body of planning professionals, we urge African governments to increase their investment, establish smart partnership in development of water treatment plants, sewer reticulation, and refuse collection and management to reduce vulnerabilities to diseases such as cholera and typhoid outbreaks as well as overcoming pandemics such as the Covid-19. There is need to improve strategic maintenance and management of water and sanitation infrastructure in all local communities. We also urge governments to commit to planning that ensure equitable and inclusive provision of water and sanitation to all classes of the communities.