The City of Mutare has emerged the winner of maiden Multi-City Challenge Africa competition which was an initiative aimed at tackling urban life problems affecting African local authorities through extensive citizen participation.
City of Mutare has made history by being the first local authority from Zimbabwe and Southern Africa to win the challenge after contesting against other cities including Kano of Nigeria, Kampala Uganda, Accra Ghana and Bahir Dar Ethiopia.
Speaking during the virtual award ceremony which was held on Monday (February 22), Mutare City Council Multi-City Challenge coordinating committee chairperson Kimberly Sithole commended the competing cities for teamwork saying Africa has what it takes to be a global giant.
"Congratulations to our fellow cities including Kano, Bahir Dar, Accra and Kampala for working as a team. That team spirit showed that Africa as a continent has all it takes to rise and stand as a global giant in every aspect.
"I implore African cities to implement the challenges at local and national levels so as to set the precedence that urban challenges can be solved through citizen participation.
"It’s time for us to draw up the implementation matrix of solutions that were selected. Local government speaks to the people at grassroots level hence people from all sectors of the political economy came out to give ideas be it universities, private and government organisations, men, women and youths. It was a wonderful journey and learning curve," said Sithole.
Mutare City Council spokesperson Spren Mutiwi told TellZim News that the local authority is on a process of engaging the winners so as to map a way forward on how to implement their ideas.
"We won in Urban Resilience and Informal Sector categories. The recognition and selection of Zimbabwean ideas as the ideal ones in solving the local authority challenges is a cause for celebration.
"We are now working on meeting the winners so we can formulate a working template. Afterwards we will then embark on the implementation process and we hope the funding will be indicated then," said Mutiwi.
Project director for Local Authority Database Systems (LADS Africa), a startup under the Harare Institute of Technology, Tererai Maposa was one of the awarded city winner for Mutare through a solution dubbed Informal market analysis using geo-referenced transactions.
Speaking during the award ceremony Maposa said that they proposed a mobile app for Mutare City that allows nomadic vendors to capture all their transactions.
"Every transaction captured will be geo-referenced so that we can do data manning in that application. This will enable City Council to come up with some intelligence that informs the authority on where to install markets for a particular segment of vendors.
"The mobile application will be downloadable on Google Play. In basic terms the idea we are proposing is a tool that will enable the city council to make informed decisions," said Maposa.
A 21-year-old University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student Patronella Mabika was the second awarded city winner through a solution titled policy reinforcements on wetlands to reduce flooding.
Mabika said her proposal was based on how to deal with high levels of rain in order to avoid flooding.
"Because of the negative impacts of flooding on the environment, people and infrastructure, it’s best to find ways on how to deal with flooding.
"Conserving wetlands is the best way to deal with flooding. It is our duty as citizens to promote wetlands and also use them in a sustainable manner," said Mabika.
On the Multi-City Challenge Winners category, Mutare dominated after two solutions were voted as the best.
Mutare Green Villages an idea pitched by Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe was awarded as the second Multi-City Challenge winner.
"The objective of the idea is to build resilient communities by facilitating access to safe, clean drinking water and sustainable waste management through renewable energy technologies and waste recycling," said Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe advisor Paul Chimedza.
Dickson David Mhlanga of University of Zimbabwe under the Department of Architecture and Real Estate was also awarded as a Multi-City Challenge winner. His proposed idea was called Urban Space-Time: Merging Sectors of the Urban Economy.
The Multi-City Challenge Africa, is a build-up to the fruitful implementation of the Multi-City Challenge model in Latin America, the US and Europe, which provides an opportunity for African city leaders to work with others by sharing experiences from communities through robust public engagement efforts across cities.
The prestigious International Cities Challenge was modeled by a Singapore-based Governance Lab in 2016 and after being pioneered in South America it was then transformed into a Multi-city Challenge.
The African version provides a platform for public servants to establish workable solutions needed to resolve the challenges of urban life through robust public engagement.
The Multi-City Africa Challenge is a citizen participation initiative organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development, and the Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University Tandon School of Engineering.