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close this bookHabitat Debate - Vol. 4 - No. 3 - 1998 - Urban Finance (HABITAT, 1998, 61 p.)
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View the documentEDITORIAL
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Open this folder and view contentsCASE STUDY
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View the documentUNCHS (Habitat) OFFICES

LETTERS

At a recent workshop on “Safer Cities by the Year 2010” held in my city, a scholar from Peshawar described a housing development project which had met with unexpected success. The reason, he said, was that local religious leaders were involved in the people's participation process of the project.

Similarly, Rasna Warah, in her article “Women Working for Peace” (Habitat Debate, Vol. 4. No. 1) noted the work of Gloria Cuartas, a former theology student and former mayor of the Colombian town of Apartado, who managed a civic education campaign and successfully fought violence in the town. This points to the important role of theologians and religious groups within our societies. We must revive their lost role so as to make our cities safer in the third millennium.

Prof. Ikram Ali Gelani
Lahore, Pakistan

Habitat Debate (Vol. 4 No. 1, March 1998) focusing on “Safer Cities” was a milestone issue which seriously covered one of the most challenging topics of our time. I think Kenyans should adopt the Japanese “Koban” community policing system described in that issue. Viva Habitat and thanks for highlighting this important topic.

Joseph Murimi Karami
Youth Programme Coordinator
Baricho, Kerugoya, Kenya

I have been an eager reader of the Habitat Debate newsletter and other UNCHS publications. The March 1998 issue of Habitat Debate “Safer Cities”, is one I will be using as a text in the class I am teaching this coming term: “Violence: Origins and Explanations”. The class is part of an academic minor in Community Violence Prevention.

Sharon Rice-Vaughan
Assoc. Professor
Metropolitan State University
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.

This is in reference to your letter dated 15 February 1998, announcing the theme for this year's World Habitat Day, 5 October 1998, - “Safer Cities”. Is it sufficient to have human settlements planned only for economic pursuit and physical comfort? Such a city may have very well-knit residential areas and work centres, open spaces and recreational areas with adequate provision of all infrastructural services, including efficient transportation and communication networks. But is it enough? If such a model city is vulnerable to crimes of all sorts, displays a high suicidal rate, fosters alienation, breeds diseases and thrives on a loosening of social bonds, can it be defined as a healthy settlement?

The human habitat, being a living environment, plays a vital role in shaping human behaviour. Do designers of cities take into consideration the significance of behavioral patterns and psychosocial issues of health as design parameters to achieve a conducive living environment? The issue is whether such a city is compatible to the basic parameters of the “Human Design” or whether there is something fundamentally missing in the planning of the city itself. In my opinion, human settlements should be planned and designed taking into consideration the collective psychic being (a harbinger of inner freedom of the community) thus creating a “psycho-spiritual space for human settlements”.

G. Mitra
Architect, Planner, Thinker and Analyst
New Delhi, India

I am a regular reader of Habitat Debate and manage to read a copy at the Delhi School of Economics library. As a TV-Anchor with the National Television (Doordarshan) presenting the Countrywide Classroom Programme - an educational programme - and also a development activist and writer (with Braintrust, a developmental NGO), I find your journal very useful.

Rajiv Ranjan Thakur
(TV Anchor & Development Writer)
New Delhi, India

Habitat Debate, Vol. 4 No. 1. contained a wealth of interesting and educational information. Your newsletter is placed in MINSOC's Community Resource and Information Centre (MCRIS). Keep up the excellent work. Also we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all at UNCHS a Happy 20th Anniversary and hope for the very best in the future.

Kavitha Sowndappan
Executive Officer
Management Institute for Social Change (MINSOC)
Pahang Darul Maktur, Malaysia

While going through the December 1997 issue of Habitat Debate (Vol. 3 No. 4) I came across the article entitled “Community Action Planning in Action” based on the book by Nabeel Hamdi and Reinhard Goethert. The concepts presented at the CAP workshop were certainly fascinating. The article reminded me of the Build Together National Programme (BT) launched by the Namibian Government with the help of UNCHS and UNDP. The aim of this low-income programme was to provide housing for marginalized Namibians, who lived in the towns of Namibia under the filthiest conditions in one-room units called single quarters.

Three UNV specialists helped the Ministry of Local Government and Housing in achieving its goal of affordable housing for all - either rented or owned. One of the specialists assisted in financial matters such as loan processing while the second helped in providing homes for 5,000 families by liaising between community leaders, government officers and the beneficiaries. The third UNV dealt with technical issues. One of his duties was to teach people how to develop local raw matter into building materials. One important idea was that of recycling beer bottles and cans and using them as building materials. Mounds of bottles, which used to litter the Namibian towns, were broken into small pieces, arranged in wet concrete in pre-cast slabs. These were used as a skirting facade on the outside of buildings. This eliminated the need for plastering or painting. The people were encouraged to get involved in the work themselves. This helped to reduce the labour costs. Though the programme members had to face opposition from some old builders, their project was accepted by the authorities. The latter were only too eager to get rid of the squatter settlements which had become an eyesore.

The programme was so successful that it received the Habitat Scroll of Honour in 1993. Now, people all over Namibia are investing in these buildings.

Padma Mohan Kumar
Chief, Editorial, Library, NGOs
United Schools International
New Delhi, India