Skip to main content

News and stories

Explore the CAA's digital base map designed to support sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth!

Ordnance Survey (OS), the International Growth Centre (IGC) and the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) are responding to the challenges associated with urban growth, and the availability of accurate and up-to-date data for creating well-planned and managed cities, by piloting the creation of an automated digital base map of Lusaka, Zambia in response to a request from the Zambian Ministry of Local Government for support with the management of the extensive informal settlements which exist in the city.

According to the UN-Habitat report "Financing Sustainable Urbanization: Counting the Costs and Closing the Gap", the world is rapidly urbanising: more than 55% of the world's population now lives in urban areas, and by 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people are expected to live in cities. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, is urbanising twice as fast as Europe with urban populations expected to triple by 2050. The World Bank estimate that 54% of Sub Saharan African urban dwellers are living in informal settlements and between 50% and 80% rely on informal jobs. These dwellings are overcrowded, often polluted, with inadequate housing, and limited access to water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, these informal sites lack the infrastructure required to support sustainable, liveable, and productive urban environments.

This data will help identify informal settlements, population and density, the number of built structures, the location of transport infrastructure surrounding the formal and informal neighbourhoods, as well as access to electricity, sanitation facilities and clean water. It will help equip city managers with accurate, up-to date information that will enable better coordination and more effective evidence-based planning, especially with such issues as land use planning, land administration, infrastructure management, transport planning etc.

The pilot forms part of the response to the Survey of the Built Environment Professions in the Commonwealth which identified a critical lack of capacity among built environment professionals in many of the Commonwealth countries which are urbanising most rapidly and are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. It is also an example of the practical action being undertaken by the authors of the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth being led 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. 

Explore the map!