|Rural Growth Centres in Malawi: A Planning and Design Dilemma
|Mlia, J. Ngoleka N.
Kaluwa, Ben M.
|African Urban Quarterly (ISSN 0747-6108)
|biblio. refs., maps
|Many countries in Africa have experience with growth centres as a policy strategy for promoting development in the poorer regions of their countries. Malawi is one of the countries that has adopted a growth centre strategy although its so-called rural growth centres are essentially community service centres. This paper reviews Malawi’s Rural Growth Centres Project (RGCP), which has since been renamed National Rural Centres Programme (NRCP). After an examination of the nature and objectives of the RGCP, potential sources of planning and design problems are discussed. Three factors can be identified as having interacted and contributed to the problems in the planning and design of the centres: 1) the general level of poverty nationally and in the rural areas in particular, and the dominance of the latter demographically and economically; 2) a historically underdeveloped and poorly integrated urban hierarchical structure; and 3) the lack of a clearly delineated set of objectives. The design dilemmas emanating from these problems are considered under five headings, namely: economic considerations versus social considerations in site selection; public versus private provision of commercial facilities; simultaneous versus phased provision of facilities and services; top-down versus bottom-up planning approach and implementation; and intersectoral versus sectoral responsibility for centre management. In spite of a number of weaknesses, the rural growth centres are helping to improve the quality of life in hitherto underprivileged areas. Ref., sum.
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