AfDB supports new Eco-green City planned for eSwatini

  • The African Development Bank’s Urban and Municipal Development Fund is partnering with the Eswatini Water and Agriculture Development Enterprise on a new urban planning project, closely linked with the development of a transformative agro-industrial hub which will boost  economic activities and to attract tens of thousands of workers.

The Fund approved a grant of $400,000 to the “Eswatini New Eco-Green City Masterplan“ on 8 June this year. The grant will support the planning of a new urban area in the Shiselweni region of the country, where population and economic activities are expected to grow quickly over the next few years.

The project includes the setting up of a special agro-processing zone, to be undertaken by the Eswatini Water and Agriculture Development Enterprise (ESWADE), as a public-private partnership. The project will generate approximately 100, 000 jobs for workers, creating the need for housing, health and education services for workers and their families.

The Shiselweni region faces the highest level of poverty in the country yet is very suitable for agricultural activity due to its rich soil. It is the driest region in Eswatini with an annual precipitation of 500 mm per annum.  Reducing drought vulnerability and developing economic activities is a priority for the government, which is planning the construction of three dams to enable irrigation.

Called the Mkhondvo-Ngwavuma Water Augmentation Project (MNWAP), the plan is driven by a value-chain approach which includes agricultural diversification (horticulture, cotton, dry beans, oil crops) that will enable agro-processing and attract new industries and workers.

One hurdle will be to accommodate the influx of workers stimulated by the growth of the agro-industrial complex. A well-planned new eco-city is expected to provide high quality services for the population, stimulate economic diversification, create sustainable employment and reduce poverty in the area, while safeguarding the environment.

The Fund will assist with a development vision and strategy outlining the government’s aims and objectives. It will also lend support to the development plan for the new Eco City and  agro-processing zones linked to existing and future development initiatives. A master plan for the Eco City’s holistic development, including sustainable infrastructure needs assessment, pre-feasibility studies and investment packaging to support downstream investments by the African Development Bank and other partners, will also be addressed.

The Urban and Municipal Development Fund’s support will be key for the design of the development plan and to identify the non-agricultural elements of the project, including but not limited to energy and transportation. The fund will support with the urban planning aspects of the project.

“Climate adaptation and mitigation approaches and solutions will be at the center of the urban planning, solutions and sector investment development,”  Stated Marcus Mayr, UMDF coordinator, who presented the project during the Oversight Committee.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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