Event 2

event title

Informing Urban Policy Decisions using Better Data in Zambia

delivered by

  • Chair: Mr Andy Wilson, Region Director, Africa, Ordnance Survey, UK
  • Opening and closing remarks: Mr Peter Oborn, Senior Vice President, Commonwealth Association of Architects
  • Framing Presentation: Ms Juliet Ezechie, Head of International, Ordnance Survey, UK
  • Panellists:
    • Mr Dennis Chiwele, International Growth Centre, Zambia
    • Lt Col Francis Ngabo, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Space Agency, Rwanda
    • Ms Meembo Nchimunya Changula, Principal Planner – Forward Planning, Ministry of Local Government, Zambia


This is the second of three events in support of the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth that has been developed jointly by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from the Government of Rwanda and The Prince’s Foundation. 

Informal settlements make up over 54% of the urban population in Africa, with profound consequences in terms of health & well-being, prosperity and environmental impact, plus the fact that retrofitting infrastructure is three time more expensive. In Lusaka, Zambia, an urbanisation plan is needed to better target investment in critical infrastructure and services, upgrading informal settlements to provide for the most vulnerable residents. But how do policy makers make informed decisions? And quickly? Working with the IGC and CAA, Ordnance Survey produced detailed data in a few weeks so that policy makers could start to ensure a more resilient urban future for Lusaka and its residents. We also discuss tools that can help nations measure their progress against SDGs and help with their resilient recovery from COVID-19.

This event was first broadcast on 06 July 2021 and was watched by over 125 participants from over 34 countries. The live recording of this event is available to watch at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  1. Challenges in informal settlements are very complex and take different forms: physical, political, cultural and environmental. It’s not just a singular challenge, but a combination of many factors that need to be tackled.
  2. Informal settlements are the product of a series of wider problems. Governments require detailed data and at much more granular level in order to inform city, regional and national policy. It’s critical to have an understanding of the challenges at the neighbourhood or even property level. 
  3. Data has to come from many different stakeholders; using existing data where possible; but also understanding the need to collect new data too and looking at new ways to collect data; to achieve evidence based policy.
  4. The importance of having time series data; so trends and changes can be identified over time, rather than just looking at today’s data; which is a snapshot; and potentially looking at using real time data too. Having both  allows one to measure the effectiveness of policy over time.
  5. It’s vital to measure success by how interventions are making a difference to citizens and their health and welling. The measurement of targeted interventions to improve infrastructure in informal settlements is also critical to mitigating the informal nature of the settlements.  
  6. It’s important to use academic research and knowledge to inform the political agenda, the policy measures and the inventions and actions. 
  7. The significance of partnership in achieving success, as demonstrated by the Lusaka Informal Settlements project. No one organisation can tackle these challenges on their own; a combined effort across multiple stakeholders, both in the public and private sector is required to achieve success.

links to further information

additional resources

A copy of the Ordnance Survey PPT can be found here.
A copy of the video shared in the event ‘Tackling urbanisation with detailed data in Lusaka, Zambia’ can be found here.