Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi led the country in the commemoration of World Habitat Day 2015 under the theme Public Spaces for All.
The event which started with a solidarity march from Blantyre Civic Centre to city centre, drew participants from Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu City Councils led by their Mayors.
Muluzi encouraged councils to utilize Public spaces in their urban centres for the benefit of the residents.
Hosting Mayor Noel Chalamanda said streets and public spaces have often been overlooked and undervalued although they are increasingly being considered as the backbone of the cities.
“Public spaces are places which are accessible and enjoyable by all without a profit motive and take on various spatial forms, including parks, streets, sidewalks, road reserves, markets, parkades, water parks and playgrounds just to mention a few,” said Chalamanda.
He added: “The character of a city is deﬁned by its streets and public spaces. From city squares to neighbourhood gardens and children playgrounds, public space frames city image. The layout plans of streets, green spaces, water parks and public spaces forms the bedrock of the city upon which everything else rests.”
“Well designed and managed public space is a key asset for a city’s functioning and has a positive impact on its economy, environment, safety, health, integration and connectivity,” he said
The Mayor said many cities are developing policies that promote compact, livable areas, with adequate public space that facilitate public transport, encourages walking and cycling in order to reduce carbon emissions.
“Public space is critical for environmental sustainability. Green and open public space brings many important environmental beneﬁts such as, the cooling of air and the absorption of atmospheric pollutants,” he said.
The Mayors from the four cities also conducted a debate broadcast live on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Television channel and Zodiak Broadcasting Station on the same theme of Public Spaces for All.