Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 6

Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering these questions.

SAQ 6.1 (tests Learning Outcomes 6.1 and 6.2)

You have come across the following terms in this study session when you have been reading about land use and the physical environment. Beside each term write a definition and then list the parts of the physical environment involved: atmosphere, water, or land.

TermDefinition                                                                                                             Part(s) of physical environment
Urban heat island
Land use
Impermeable surfaces
Land cover


TermDefinitionPart of physical environment
Urban heat island Effect caused by heat energy radiated from hard surfaces in large cities that raises temperature relative to surrounding rural areas, especially at nightLand, atmosphere
Land useArrangements, activities and inputs by people to produce, change or maintain a certain land cover typeLand
DeforestationClearance of forest areasLand, water
Impermeable surfacesHard surfaces such as roofs, roads and pavements that water cannot infiltrate Land, water
Land coverVisible cover of the land such as forest, grassland, farmland, desertLand

SAQ 6.2 (tests Learning Outcomes 6.1 and 6.3)

What is the aim of urban planning? List three problems of unplanned urban development that can be solved by urban planning.


The aim of urban planning is to design towns and cities to function effectively and meet the needs of people living in them.

Three problems of uncontrolled urban development that can be solved by urban planning are:

  • poor housing quality, including poor construction
  • lack of infrastructure and services, especially for water, sanitation and solid waste management, but also electricity, roads and transport facilities, shops, schools and health care.
  • lack of drainage systems that leads to flooding.

(You might also have chosen the following problems: increase in peri-urban areas, building insecure homes in unsafe places, lack of green spaces such as parks, disease outbreaks caused by poor sanitation.)

SAQ 6.3 (tests Learning Outcome 6.1)

What is zoning and why is it no longer considered a good idea in urban planning?


Zoning is the creation of defined areas within a town that are designated for different activities, for example zones for housing, commerce and industry, with the aim of improving urban living conditions by separating people from land uses that are harmful, such as industry. Zoning is no longer considered a good idea as it had the unintended effect of creating a social divide by separating well-off people and poorer people into different areas. This social separation was associated with inequality in services and facilities available in different zones – with poorer people having worse services and facilities.

SAQ 6.4 (tests Learning Outcome 6.4)

The three pillars of sustainability are economics, society and environment. For each pillar, give an example to show how urban planning can contribute to sustainable urban living.


We have selected the following, you may have chosen other examples:

  • Economics – urban planning should consider economic benefits, for example affordable housing and employment.
  • Society – urban planning needs to consider social equity, for example planning for mixed land use developments that integrate different functions of residential, commercial and business together, so that there is equitable access to services and facilities.
  • Environment – urban planning should protect the environment. For example, it should provide sufficient green spaces; these areas of natural ground absorb run-off and assist in the problems of surface water drainage.

SAQ 6.5 (tests Learning Outcome 6.5)

Imagine that you are an urban WASH worker and have been asked to summarise in a short written report the achievements and challenges of the Integrated Housing Development Programme (IHDP) for people who have never heard of it before. In your report you should include a description of the IHDP, a list of its achievements and a warning about the challenges faced in its implementation.


The Integrated Housing Development Programme (IHDP) is an Ethiopian government-led programme begun in 2005 to provide new, affordable housing for low- and middle-income people. It was set up under the Urban Development Package which set out the answer to the question ‘what’ was the government going to do to deliver urban-based public services of jobs, houses, roads, schools, clinics and water supply.

The achievements of the IHDP are as follows: implementation in 56 towns to date; building of many condominiums in Addis Ababa; creation of 176,000 jobs in construction and mineral extraction; increased home ownership; and improved living conditions for many people.

There have also been, however, a number of challenges in its implementation. The IHDP has been suspended outside Addis Ababa because the high-rise condominiums were unpopular in smaller, low-rise towns. Where condominiums have been built, there have been delays in infrastructure and essential services such as electricity and sewerage because companies are unable to keep up with demand and there are concerns about the construction quality of some blocks. There has also been a reduction in planned green spaces and communal buildings for social activities in order to increase housing density and reduce costs. Although the condominiums are popular, they are expensive, which has led to some people sub-letting their units, or buying units that are smaller than required, leading to overcrowding. As condominiums have mainly been built on the edges of Addis Ababa where there is little employment, this has meant increasing pressure on transport because people have to travel into the city for work.

Summary of Study Session 6