Nankhumwa made the call on Wednesday during the opening ceremony of a three-day international mayors’ meeting dubbed ‘Lilongwe International Mayors Forum’ currently under way at Bingu Wa Mutharika International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
He said the urbanization rate across the world is increasing which is hindering sustainable development of the cities in many countries, hence the need for collaborative efforts among the mayors from across the world to also minimize the rate of urbanization.
According to Nankhumwa, urbanisation rate in Malawi is at seven per cent per year which he said causes rapid movement of people from rural areas to urban places. He warned that if the rate of movement is not controlled now, it will not be controlled in future.
He further said during this year’s meeting, the mayors should focus on finding measures which would help to slow down the rate of urbanization in countries.
“During the forum, Mayors should at least address the issue of urbanisation by coming up with strategies which can help to reduce the rate of people moving from rural settlements to urban settlements,” said Nankhumwa.
For Malawi, government is introducing rural growth centres across the country as a way to minimize migration of people from rural areas to towns.
The development of rural growth centres are aimed at making services which are usually found in towns, available at rural communities’ door step, hence the little need for them to move to towns in large numbers.
This year’s Mayors’ meeting is the second but the first of its kind to be convened in Africa. The first was held last year in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic in Asia.
The meeting is being patronized by mayors from more than 50 countries including; Pakistan, Guyana, Syria, Marshall Island, Zambia, Jamaica, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Albania, Dominican Republic and Malawi.
During the meeting, mayors are expected to discuss how they can achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 11 which stresses on inclusiveness, safety, resilience and sustainability of the world’s cities.
In her remarks, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-Malawi, Maria Jose Torres Macho said the Mayors’ Forum is a dialogue stage for implementing sustainable developments across the world.