On 20 May 2019, the Ugandan government conferred city status upon Gulu, along with four other regional municipalities across the country (the others were Mbarara, Jinja, Fort Portal and Arua). Gulu will formally become a city in July 2020. Two weeks after the Ugandan government’s announcement, a workshop was held with senior planning officers from Gulu, as well as international urban design specialists and academic researchers, to examine the existing processes of urban planning in Gulu (and in Uganda in general), and to explore how these might be further strengthened in the future.
The workshop was co-organized by UWA, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Gulu University and Leuven University, and with Integrated Design Group. Representing UWA were AfREC Associate Director (Research) A/Prof. Richard Vokesand researchers Dr Anthony Duckworth-Smith and Dr Julian Bolleter.
The workshop, highlighted how co-design methods – and especially that of the ‘Rapid City’ serious game (which was developed by UWA’s Australian Urban Design Research Centre) – might help Gulu’s policy makers to achieve these, and other, goals.
The workshop particularly highlighted how Rapid City might help all kinds of stakeholders in Gulu to more effectively engage with, and enact, concepts of sustainability, and smart city’ technologies, within their future planning.
It is hoped that this work will form the basis for further participatory research in Gulu, and in other new African cities in the years ahead.