The growth and functions of small Urban Centres in Zambia: A case study of Mazabuka and Kalomo

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Nchito, Sithabiso Sichombo Wilma
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This study is an analysis of Mazabuka and Kalomo, two small towns in Zambia. The study presents a historical baseline study in order to outline the growth of the towns. These small urban centres have experienced growth from the time they were created and it is the nature and quality of this growth that needs to be understood. The functional aspects of the towns are examined by considering the expansion of the most prominent economic sector which is the retail sector from the time they were established to the time of the study. The role of Mazabuka and Kalomo in terms of rural-urban linkages is also presented in the study with the transport sector and movement of shoppers. The study examines the growth or lack of it in terms of existing policies in the country. A survey was carried out in the two towns and data was collected using interview schedules to obtain information from shoppers, central business district entities, seasonal workers and transporters found in the two towns. Structured interviews were held with council officials and other key informants in both towns. The findings from the study show that the urban growth has been in phases and has inadvertently been affected by government policies. The study findings also show that the rural population still depends on the nearest small town and distance is not a deterrent as there are few alternatives in the rural areas. This indicates that small urban areas are important for rural development. Government policies such as decentralization should focus on small town development in order to develop rural areas. The presence of large private sector activities will increase the rate of growth and the initial investment is needed to drive small town growth. This study found that liberalization of the economy led to an initial downturn in retail activities but this was overturned after a period. As a result Mazabuka and Kalomo have both experienced gradual but increased investments in the retail sector. This investment can be in the agricultural or retail sectors as the study findings revealed in the case of Mazabuka. In Kalomo, where the level of capital investment has historically been low, the growth has been slower. This is an indication that there are differences in functional complexities and capacities which will need to be taken into consideration during the process of decentralization. The increasing importance of small individually owned retail outlets in small towns was also studied and noted as was the importance of the private sector in transportation. On the whole, the study presents unprecedented geographical and historical baseline aspects of urbanization in Zambia. In analysing the evolution of Mazabuka and Kalomo, the study outlines the process of colonial urban development and explains the impact on this historical context on current developments. In conclusion, the study found that these small towns have grown at different rates due to differences in existing infrastructure and different responses to economic policies. It also found that, small towns such as Mazabuka and Kalomo act as central places offering higher order goods to their hinterland. In this case the consumers came from a radius beyond what would be expected in the Central Place Theory but this is due to the lack of secondary settlements. Despite small towns not being able to provide adequate services, the study findings show that they still present a level of urban concentration which is able to generate economic growth and employment.
Urbanization-Kalomo, Zambia-History-20th Century , Cities and Towns-Kalomo-Growth-History-20th century