Nampula is Mozambique’s second largest urban centre and considered the ‘capital’ of northern region. It is also one of the economically most dynamic cities of the country due to its location in the centre of Nampula Province – the most populous and prosperous of Mozambique – in the heartland of highly productive agricultural areas, at the cross roads between the East-West Nacala Development Corridor linking land-locked Malawi and Zambia to the port of Nacala, and the North-South corridor linking Tanzania with the rest of Mozambique. Due to these facts Nampula has been growing rapidly from 53,970 inhabitants in 1970, to 158,099 in 1980 and 306,074 in 1997; it is now estimated that the population of the is around 600,000 inhabitants, showing an annual growth of over 5%, which puts a tremendous pressure on urban land, infrastructure and municipal services. At the same time the surrounding District of Nampula is the fastest growing in Nampula Province. This explosive urban growth has been and continues to be mainly unplanned, so that more than 80% of the population live in high density squatter settlements with appalling housing, environmental and living conditions and generally deprived of the most basic infrastructure and services, and is potentially preventing successful investment projects if no proper territorial planning strategy is thought through.
Since 2008 the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has been supporting the municipality and district of Nampula, together the Faculty of Architecture and Physical Planning (FAPF) at the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) and with the financial support of Cities Alliance, in preparing a city-wide slum upgrading plan (CWSUP) and a city development strategy (CDS) which covers the surrounding Nampula District to cater for the urban growth in the medium to long term, hence preventing the formation of new slums in the peri-urban areas and providing more favourable conditions for investment.