Lusaka’s Expanding EPIC Partnerships Look to Solve Capacity Issues 


Alexandra Skinner


Community Size
University of Zambia
In Progress
Case Type
Project Stories
School Size
Focus Areas
Environmental Education
Sustainable Development Goals
13 Climate Action

Like many other African cities, Lusaka is facing rapid urbanization and various challenges related to inequality, climate change, economic opportunity, and service delivery. The city is faced with limited technical capacity to deliver essential services to all 3.3 million people and with a growth rate of about 5% annually, Lusaka’s Local Authority is unable to match the growing demand for public services. The Local Authority is overwhelmed and is currently looking for strategies to help mitigate these issues. Similarly, the University of Zambia has sought to reform its teaching, research, and community engagement strategies to become more relevant to the immediate environment through research and teaching partnerships for community development. To meet both the city and University goals, the EPIC model provides a simple but powerful tool that can draw upon the skills and technical know-how of academicians, researchers, and their students, to help aid Lusaka’s struggling municipality. 

Lusaka already has a history of using the EPIC model on a smaller scale as the city signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Zambia to institutionalize the EPIC model in Lusaka. For the past four years, the model has been implemented on a small scale and has resulted in significant gains for the city. Currently, the City Council of Lusaka and the University of Zambia are looking to expand the EPIC model to create city-wide positive change to locally relevant issues such as climate change adaptation, waste management, and urban planning. This project will look to begin in August of 2023 and end by August 2024. 

In taking steps to expand the model, the City hopes to build capacity among all EPIC model actors in Lusaka through training, sensitization, and community engagement so that skills are created for upscaling deployment of the EPIC model in Lusaka. The City would also like to collaborate with other entities to identify community development interventions that are in line with the principles of the EPIC model and make investments to support urban climate adaptation, social and gender inclusion in city development plans, and support learning and innovation at a community level. Finally, the city would also like to undertake capacity development actions that look to build sustainability in all future EPIC interventions in Lusaka through expanded partnerships for EPIC innovations. 

In support of the goals, the project will look to sensitize at least 20 Departments at the University of Zambia to adopt the EPIC model in teaching and research. To increase the application of the EPIC model and principles in the community, the project will increase the capacity of all nine Departments at the Lusaka City Council. This research will work to accelerate the implementation and expansion of the EPIC model by expanding the agreement to build sustainability. Over 500 students are planned to be involved in the EPIC model beginning with graduate courses in Economics, Geography, Urban Planning, Development Studies, Environmental Management, Public Health, Geomatics, GIS, Environmental Education, Civil Engineering, and Education. 

There will be many actors involved throughout this project to meet as many goals as possible. The project will be implemented as a collaboration between the Lusaka City Council, the University of Zambia, and selected communities with each party holding a very specific role in the project. For instance, the Lusaka City Council will provide a specific policy framework for community interventions to take place. Communities will anchor and support all activities in the collaboration while the University of Zambia will provide the students and research capacity needed to expand the Epic model in the city. Members of the community will also take the lead in identifying key problems in the communities and in respective wards. Community members will be represented within each project by community leaders, Community-Based Organizations, Ward Development Committees, and residents. 

The University of Zambia will undertake capacity development activities to increase capacity on EPIC model implementation and raise awareness among the MoU actors. This includes training for students, Course conveners, Deans of Schools, and Heads of Departments at the University of Zambia and the Lusaka City Council. In terms of providing knowledge, university students will provide time and a technical understanding of selected topics and community members will supply time and local knowledge. Students will also take time to engage with communities to define priority interventions through the EPIC model. 

Through this research, the relationship between communities, the Lusaka City Council, and the University of Zambia will be strengthened. There will additionally, be  improved community service and a better understanding of development actions in communities particularly those focused on strengthening climate resilience in flood-prone areas, aligning with SDG 13. This EPIC project will bring improved governance and civic awareness in communities where EPIC projects will take place and see increased accountability from all parties involved in community development in Lusaka.  

This project is ongoing and will be finished in 2024.