Fredrick Omolo Okalebo: The Evolution of Town Planning Ideas, Plans and Their Implementation


Through a descriptive and exploratory approach, and by review and deduction of archival and documentary resources, supplemented by empirical evidence from case studies, this thesistraces, analyses and describes the historic trajectory of planning events in Kampala City,Uganda, since the inception of modern town planning in 1903, and runs through the variousplanning episodes of 1912, 1919, 1930, 1951, 1963/4, 1972 and 1994.The planning ideas atinterplay in each planning period and their expression in planning schemes vis-à-vis spatialoutcomes form the major focus.

The study results show the existence of two distinct landscapes; Mengo for the NativeBaganda peoples and Kampala for the Europeans, a dualism that existed for much of theperiod before 1968. Modern town planning was particularly applied to the colonial city whilethe native city grew with little attempts to planning. Four main ideas are identified as havinginformed planning and transformed Kampala – first, the utopian ideals of the century;secondly, “the mosquito theory” and the general health concern and fear of catching ‘native’diseases – malaria and plague; thirdly, racial segregation and fourth, an influx of migrantlabour into Kampala City, and attempts to meet an expanding urban need in the immediatepost war years and after independence in 1962 saw the transfer and/or the transposition of themodernist and in particular, of the new towns planning ideas – which were particularlyexpressed in the plans of 1963-1968 by the United Nations Planning Mission. The postindependenceera also saw the various ideas articulated under traditional land use and zoningpractices especially expressed in the 1972 and 1994 plans.

While a great deal of planning work has been done in both the colonial and postcolonialeras, findings on ground show that almost all planning ideas expressed in the colonialplanning schemes of Kampala City in 1912, 1919, 1930 and 1951 have had physical impacton the spatial structure of Kampala City compared to any period after independence. Thepostcolonial era experienced little application and implementation of the planning ideas andplans. This is attributed to several factors including: governance issues, lack of financialresources and manpower, the complicated land tenure systems emerging from 1900 Bugandaagreement, lack of political commitment, and importation of foreign models withoutreorienting them to the local context, and so forth.

The study concludes by highlighting some of the reflections and the implications forfuture planning, considerations which perhaps may be useful for the planners of tomorrowand may influence the development of planning policy and perhaps ‘new’ planningapproaches.

Key words: planning, planning ideas, implementation, colonial, postcolonial


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