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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 3, Number 1 (HABITAT, 1994, 44 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe aim of the network and its journal
View the documentForeword
View the documentUganda: Follow-up actions with regard to the recommendations of the Workshop of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies
View the documentUnited Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) - Istanbul, Turkey 3-14 June 1996 - “The City Summit”1
View the documentA strategy for effective participation of the African region in the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)2
View the documentHabitat II Preparatory Process and the Construction Sector
View the documentTechnology profile No. 1: Blended cements*
View the documentTechnology profile No. 2: Phosphogypsum as building material**
View the documentTechnology profile No. 3: Utilization of fly ash in the production of building materials***
View the documentEvents
View the documentPublications review - Published by UNCHS (Habitat)

A strategy for effective participation of the African region in the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)2

2/ This paper is a summary of the findings of an expert-group meeting on the above-mentioned subject. The meeting was organized by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21 to 25 February 1994. The meeting was attended by 52 participants from 15 African countries and representatives of some inter-governmental organizations such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Shelter-Afrique.

PART I

Towards formulating an African common position on the Habitat II Conference

Preamble

The economic and social crisis in Africa over the past fifteen years has profoundly affected every aspect of its social and political institutions, hampering human development activities at local and national levels. The crisis has been exacerbated by rapid population growth, political conflicts, natural disasters, refugee movements, inappropriate development policies, and the failure on the part of some governments to involve civil society in national development. Economic reforms, which African governments have been forced to implement against the background of depressed commodity prices, declining foreign assistance, withdrawal of private lending, increased protectionism and unsustainable levels of debt, have compounded the situation. Although these reforms are an important component of a balanced national development strategy, the short-term impact on ordinary people as well as on the capacity of governments to provide answers to critical issues of human settlements and poverty have not been encouraging. Few African countries have achieved progress in any of the indicators that measure real, sustainable development. Instead, most have slid backwards into growing inequality and poverty, ecological degradation and de-industrialization. Adjustment has been achieved by curtailing investment in social services and by incurring more debts.

The review of Africa’s economic and social crisis in the context of human settlements development reveals a number of critical issues which must serve as milestones in preparing Africa’s position for Habitat II:

Thematic priorities

(1) The need to capitalise on a vibrant civil society

Africans have shown tremendous energy and capacity to survive in spite of their continent’s unfavourable economic and political conditions. Where national governments have failed to articulate new directions for development, citizens groups are trying to provide alternative visions of survival and local governance. Unfortunately, the energy and resourcefulness of ordinary Africans have not been adequately harnessed by governments at either local or national level. On the contrary, the current policies or lack of policies of some governments have resulted in deteriorating settlements conditions for the vast majority.

The growing gap between the state and civil society has become a major obstacle in some countries to achieving sustainable development. This gap not only has a negative effect on the economy, it inhibits the ability of governments to manage more complex issues such as human settlements and sustainable management of environment and natural resources. More importantly, the state loses public support - an important ingredient in development. As a result, we are witnessing a shift in the balance of power from the state to civil society. The vibrancy of these new institutions in civil society contrasts vividly with their lack of political power and resources.

The potential of Africa lies in more enabling institutional and policy frameworks which foster equitable and sustainable human settlements, socially and by gender. 3 The solution for Africa’s problem can only be found within Africa; African governments should give priority to mobilizing their own resources for national development.

3/ The principle of participation is enshrined in African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation (Addis Ababa: February 1990).

(2) Rural-urban interaction and linkages

The nature and pace of urbanisation in Africa is unprecedented. By the year 2020, over fifty per cent of Africans will live in urban areas. Despite this trend, a substantial proportion of the African population will remain in rural areas. A sustainable approach to Africa’s development must therefore address all aspects of human settlements irrespective of the spatial distribution of its population. This creates a unique challenge: a concerted effort to address constructively the rural-urban dynamics in the world’s most rapidly urbanising continent. The key is to foster a balanced national development strategy capable of improving living conditions of all. Clearly, the state must play a central role in initiating, encouraging and supporting initiatives at all levels.

(3) Urban informal sector

A third important characteristic of the African economy and human settlements development is the so-called “informal sector”. Individual, family-based or collective micro-enterprises are the most common in the urban economic environment, yet they do not benefit from any financial or technical support and the existing legal framework tends to restrict their success. In fact, both local and central government policies have largely been negative towards the informal sector. How these dominant groups should receive the policy attention and encouragement they deserve is a critical question.

(4) Gender and human settlements development

In Africa, the colonial impact on gender division of labour is still visible today. Men were recruited to economic centres (mines, plantations and administrative urban centres). Women were left in rural areas with full responsibility for food production and caring for families, or employed as domestic workers. This legacy has been further reinforced in the post-independence period by urbanization and rural-urban migration patterns which have resulted in a rapid growth of women-headed households both in rural and urban areas. It is estimated that women-headed households tend to be poorer than other households.

As a result, African women play multiple roles in the human settlements development process. They produce food, manage households, build houses, provide services. They combine these economic functions with reproductive functions, rearing children and taking care of communities. As a survival strategy, women often rely on young girls in the household to help them manage all their responsibilities. As a result, girl children are disadvantaged compared to boy children in their access to education.

Women’s groups and organizations in Africa have taken the lead in promoting environmental management and sanitation in rural and urban areas. They have become key actors in soil conservation, reforestation, waste recycling, and sanitation as well as developing urban agriculture. Their needs are still addressed at the policy-making level and their contribution remains largely unrecognised. They face obstacles directly related to their unequal access to human settlements resources, such as property and finance, inheritance laws, training and education, and appropriate technology. This situation undermines their capacity to improve their economic livelihood and that of entire communities.

It is therefore, incumbent upon African governments to create a supportive environment to sustain their women’s contributions to social, economic and environmental development by enabling their full participation in the decision-making process at all levels. In particular, efforts must be made to improve women’s access to productive resources such as land, and to reorient critical supportive services such as training and credit to support their initiatives in human settlements development.

Thematic areas

The above broad conclusions are based on a thorough examination of five key priority areas identified by UNCHS (Habitat) and endorsed at a meeting of African experts:

(a) Poverty;
(b) Shelter;
(c) Environment;
(d) Governance; and
(e) Relief to development continuum.

In examining each of the five key topics, several issues arise which are presented below.

Poverty

In Africa, a large proportion of the population lives in absolute poverty. Increasingly, however, poverty is becoming an urban phenomenon. The most vulnerable, especially the women and children, in some cases have no political or economic power. This situation clearly indicates that no meaningful results can be achieved for the majority of Africans if the economic basis for supporting social progress is not established in a sustainable and equitable manner.

While urbanization in Africa is accelerating, the growth of the urban economy and its capacity to generate employment and provide access to shelter has been very limited. As a result, a substantial number of urban residents are engaged in subsistent income-generating activities, and a very high percentage of shelter provision generated by the informal sector. The lack of a clear-cut urban policy with respect to land use, licensing and registration of mini enterprises, zoning, access to credit and training has frustrated the initiatives and dynamism of the informal sector.

The achievement of Africa’s economic recovery and the reduction of urban poverty depends critically on the ability of governments to mobilize their population in the development process. Policy-makers have failed in most cases to acknowledge the role of the informal sector in the urban economy. Poverty alleviation in the urban context can only be effective if policy frameworks are established to enhance rather than inhibit the spirit of entrepreneurship and resourcefulness of all Africans. This will require expanding access to credit, training, management and appropriate technology by the informal sector enterprises. Governments alone cannot solve these problems; the private sector and NGOs must be allowed to play a significant role in job creation, training and provision of credit and other necessary support to community groups and the informal sector.

Besides creating an enabling environment within the economy, local authorities and national governments should promote participatory judicial practices at the local level in order to empower communities to stop the epidemic of urban violence, crime and general insecurity.

Shelter

Shelter provision is a key sector in any economy. Its performance is critical because of its impact on the broader issues of economic and social development. Yet shelter continues to be viewed by many African governments as a social service rather than an economic investment. Access to housing should be recognized not only as a basic need, but also as a basic human right.4 Viewed in this context, the human settlements development paradigm becomes the corner stone of both bottom-up and top-down approaches to development.

4/The meeting of basic needs have been declared a global entitlement in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 22: (Right to Social Security)
Article 25: (Standard of living adequate for wellbeing)
Article 26: (Right to education...)

The Preamble of the African Charier on People’s and Human Rights (1987) reads:

“convinced that it is henceforth essential to pay a particular attention to the right to development and that civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, cultural and social rights in their conception as well as universality and the satisfaction of economic, cultural and political and civic rights”.

While many African governments have adopted the principles of the Global Shelter Strategy, most of the strategies have fallen short of creating the necessary enabling environment for shelter provision. The key impediments have been the lack of sufficient loanable funds due to restrictive banking policies and practices, insufficient mobilisation of domestic savings; limited access to land by the poor, inadequate land-use planning and out-moded inheritance and property rights customs, particularly as they relate to women.

The urbanization and shelter problems in Africa seem unmanageable on the surface, but solutions to problems can only be found in the environment where they exist. The missing elements in Africa’s shelter equation have been an enabling environment and a supporting legal framework. Major progress in this area has been hampered by overly-restrictive legal frameworks and inappropriate building codes and regulations which fail to consider the interests and capacities of the poor. The bulk of investment in shelter for the poor has come from the poor themselves, and most shelter production takes place outside the realm of local and national government planning systems. Governments need to recognise the investments of the poor and the informal sector as the mainstay of their economies, rather than regarding them as problems and eye-soures. They should concentrate on encouraging communities to produce their own shelter.

Governance

Africa’s economic and social crisis raises questions about the viability of on-going sectoral policies and institutional governance. The conclusion to be drawn is that some states in Africa are not well equipped to take a lead role in development. Governance has often been highly centralized, neglecting the needs, aspirations and contributions of communities in human settlements investment. Limited resources have been directed towards human settlements development resulting in, inter alia, grossly inadequate provision of infrastructure, and hence apathy, disillusionment and a lack of local-level participation in, and enthusiasm for, government-sponsored projects and programmes. The general perception of governments’ approach towards development is one of patronage and paternalism.

More attention is needed from African governments to encourage local-level participation in human settlements development and the creation of an environment conducive to private, formal, and informal sector investments. Governments should spearhead the informal sector development process through capacity building, human resource development, institutional development and resource mobilization.

Participation requires the empowerment of people through devolution of power from the centre to community level. In order for the people to use this power effectively, the process must be accompanied by institutional capacity building at the local level. Central government functions should be made accessible through the systematic deconcentration of central government authority. Such deconcentration must be accompanied by effective delegation of authority. This, in turn, implies a system of accountability and greater transparency in bottom-up and top-down decision making and resource allocation. These steps will help in improving current practices regarding questions of resource distribution and access and political rights and processes, and help bridge the gap between the state and civil society.

Solutions to the current problems in Africa must address social and political issues as well as economic and technical ones. It is not possible to eradicate poverty and inequality, and preserve the environment, without devolving power to marginalized people. Participation and empowerment at the local level are a sine qua non to sustainable development. Without a broad-based participatory environment, all measures adopted by local authorities, national governments and donors will be inadequate in the long run.

Environment

Environmental problems in African human settlements are experienced daily, and the poor are those who suffer the most. Uncollected refuse, inadequate disposal of solid and liquid wastes and the resulting pollution of rivers, beaches and aquifers, and blocked drainage channels causing flooding and loss of property attest to Africa’s environmental crisis.

A potable-water supply is equally deficient in the water-rich and water-poor areas of Africa, due to lack of appropriate infrastructure and misuse of water sources. The poor in shanty towns often pay 5 to 10 times more for water than those city residents connected to a piped water supply. Land development is not guided by appropriate environmental concerns. Often the poor have to build houses on unsuitable land such as steep slopes, flood-prone areas or near dangerous industrial parks. Many urban dwellers in African cities rely on fuelwood as the main source of energy, causing deforestation and soil erosion in rural areas.

African cities are highly dependent upon their surrounding natural environment for the basic resources which enable them to function. However, environmental hazards and health risks such as flooding, landslides and poor sanitation severely constrain economic growth, productivity and development.

Sustainable environmental management is vital if Africa is to resume a steady path of development and human settlements management. Similarly, what Africa can expect to benefit from Habitat II, depends largely on the types of policies the governments are prepared to put in place as well as on the resources they are prepared to commit. These might include: the institutionalization of preventive policies and programmes; the appropriate valuation and sustainable use of natural resources such as land, forests and water; the application of flexible planning methods, and processes and technologies that are responsive to the rapid change in the conditions of African cities; and the need to raise awareness and to broaden exchange and communication between the media, the general public, NGOs, governments and the business and research communities to promote public awareness.

Environmental issues often result in conflicts among different interest groups. The key to promoting sustainable human settlements development is to mobilize competing interest groups in the identification priorities of their formulation and implemention at both the local and national level. Africa’s participation in Habitat II should, therefore, focus on governments’ efforts to significantly change the deciding factors in national development strategies. Without involving those interest groups that can contribute to resolving of the environmental crisis in the design of local and national development, the crisis will continue to worsen.

Experiences from many parts of Africa confirm that ordinary people have been the principal agents in the management of natural resources and the mitigation of environmental hazards. They are the agents of change and their participation in decision-making is crucial. From the Naam Movement in Burkina Faso to community waste collection in many urban areas of Africa, grassroots organizations across Africa have taken a leading role against environmental degradation. There are thousands of similar, locally-initiated self-help experiments all across Africa. Unfortunately, they are rarely the subject of government or donor support and so have not been able to realize their full potential. Environmental issues cannot be solved by governments alone. The private sector and voluntary organisations should also be encouraged to forge a partnership to achieve sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing Africa.

Disaster preparedness

Africa continues to have more than its share of disasters, which have impaired efforts to maintain sustainable living conditions for all its people. While the magnitude of disasters vary, they are made worse by widespread poverty. Regardless of the nature of the calamity, the impact creates further development problems, particularly in the area of infrastructure. Unlike most developed countries, disasters in Africa often require a long-term perspective for recovery, and thus threaten the lives of large numbers of people. The fragility of most African economies means that the capacity of governments to respond to disaster is exceedingly low by any standards. The problem is aggravated by a lack of disaster-preparedness strategies at the national level.

Future disaster planning in the African region should take into account not only natural disasters such as drought, flooding, cyclones, etc., but also human-made ones brought about by the increasing occurrence of civil strife, with its profound ramifications and implications for human settlements planning.

There is need to explore the root causes of civil strife which eventually leads to much human misery, loss of life and loss of productivity whilst at the same time seriously delaying the achievement of better living conditions for all. This emphasises the need to bring new concepts like conflict resolution into the debate on disaster prevention and mitigation. It is therefore recommended that representatives of populations affected by calamities resulting from natural or, human-made disasters be included in the country preparatory process for Habitat II, amongst others.

In addition, governments should put relief to development continuum coordination policies and institutional frameworks at the highest levels of national development planning. Such institutional frameworks create vertical and horizontal linkages at local and international levels and ensure that these are engaged in all stages of the continuum, with particular emphasis on preventive and strategic planning and sustainable development. They also promote awareness-raising and capacity-building at all levels, especially that of local authorities.

Therefore, it is desirable that all local authorities integrate disaster-preparedness into their regular activities of planning, development and management of human settlements, and coordinate and disseminate information accordingly. National governments should propose mechanisms to enable local authorities to play a more positive role in disaster relief and empower them to mobilize resources to better position to better coordinate local action.


Delapidated houses should be reconstructed using durable materials

PART II

THE PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE PREPARATION OF HABITAT II

Activities for the preparation of Habitat II will take place at four levels: local, national, regional and global.

PREAMBLE

The preparatory process should be achieved at the city level and local authorities should play a major role in the process. Awareness of the Habitat II concept, objectives and delivery mechanisms should be developed and channelled through newspapers, radio, television and posters. Local governments, networks of associations, and national steering committees should take an active part and be encouraged to publicize the goals and objectives of Habitat II.

It is of the utmost importance that a strong, imaginative and vibrant message about Habitat II be prepared and broadcast worldwide. This message should highlight the critical issues in human settlements development, pointing out the urgency of the problem and the demonstrated capacity of the poor to help themselves if accorded the right type of support from governments and other entities. The way to implement these measures should include the following:

1. Action at the local level

(a) The establishment of a national task force to initiate and guide the process under the responsibility of municipal leaders. The preparatory process at the level of local authorities should be used in the country reports.

(b) National governments should draw up the format of the report for local authorities. This should incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data and information. It should not only be flexible, but must be understood by ordinary people.

(c) Public forums should be organized along with city consultations to allow a broader exchange of views in order to arrive at a consensus among the various participants on the substance of Habitat II.

(d) Those involved in the process, from inception to completion should include, among others: local authorities, business leaders, chambers of commerce, construction industries, contractors, civic leaders, religious leaders, women’s associations, labour unions, youth, civil rights activists, NGOs and CBOs.

(e) Dissemination of information about Habitat II should take many forms besides the local media: music, drama and dance performances, popular song, and theatre. Leading artists should be approached to promote the message of Habitat II.

2. Action at the national level

(a) A steering committee on Habitat II should be established at the highest possible level in each country to initiate and guide the preparatory process. It will require participation by all involved in human settlements development management.

(b) Preparation of country reports to be used in the regional agenda;

(c) Organization of national public forums and country consultations to be used in the country report.

(d) Involvement in the preparatory process of agencies and other ministries in addition to the ministries of works and public housing or environment so as to enhance the total dimension of human settlements and its impact on the development process.

(e) Use of national media and all communications channels.

3. Action at the regional and global levels

(a) Involvement of sub-regional and regional organizations in order to solicit the necessary support for individual countries as well as to ensure that Habitat II is reflected in their deliberations.

(b) Establishment of a common format for reporting at national and local levels.

(c) Establishment of common resources for supporting preparatory activities and documentation and sharing experiences of on-going “best practices” among governments.

(d) This should be followed by a regional conference of local authorities, professional associations, chambers of commerce, etc. to prepare the African Agenda for Action.

(e) It is strongly advised that a facilitating mechanism be set up at the regional level to ensure the proper functioning of the national steering committees. This structure will also be charged with facilitating networking and closely monitoring the progress of the preparatory process.

(f) Mobilization and support to regional and global networks. Also, establishment of links across networks to coordinate preparatory activities.

Finally, the African Expert Group notes with appreciation the role of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) in the preparation of the Habitat II Conference. The Centre is well equipped to provide the necessary depth and substance that will certainly mark this event. However, the United Nations alone cannot muster the complement of skills and resources that could make Habitat II a major world event.

Africa, the continent that stands to benefit the most from the outcome of Habitat II, can certainly assist the Conference secretariat at all stages of the preparatory process. A mechanism needs to be put in place to allow the African people, institutions, and governments to play a major role in the development and implementation of the Africa Agenda for Habitat II. We recommend that the people and ministers of Africa give the greatest priority to this event at the highest levels of government. They should immediately begin to mobilize their international lobby in order to harness resources and international public opinion worldwide in support of Habitat II.

REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE REDUCTION OF POVERTY

The projections of the United Nations indicate that the urban growth rate will be highest in Africa: from 174 million in 1985 to 361 million in 2000, which will be a growth of more than 100 per cent in 15 years.

Urbanization in many countries is not accompanied by economic growth and it generates a massive burden on the job market. The high rate of urbanization also generates a huge demand for employment, housing, services and urban infrastructure.

The nature of African urbanization contributes to the degradation of the urban environment. Poverty in general, and urban poverty in particular, requires a coherent and integrated set of social, technical and economic policies. It requires all levels of government (central, local and community) to be involved in reform of the state apparatus and mechanisms to support innovations in the institutional, administrative, financial and legal framework to implement programmes of poverty reduction.

The African debt is considerable and contributes significantly to impoverishment because of the financial transfers imposed by reimbursements.

It is not possible to reduce poverty by top-down measures alone. The success of these programmes depends above all on the active participation of the poor. The role of NGOs and CBOs is fundamental and should be acknowledged as such.

Indicators on poverty in human settlements which also allow for the assessment of the efficiency of policies should reflect its many dimensions. They should consider, among others, employment, revenue, skills, access to housing and utilities, organizational capacity, the power of the community and its right and to access and justice.

African countries have not adopted a specific policy aimed at the reduction of poverty. On the contrary, the structural adjustment programmes have exacerbated the incidence of poverty in most countries.

This poverty should be seen as a symptom of insufficient production capacity. Positive action is needed to combat this by reinforcing the production capacity, particularly of the informal sector. This could be a powerful force in a large majority of African countries, and cities, and would assist urban populations in gaining access to financial and technical support within a legal framework.

The implementation of policies and strategies to reduce poverty requires:

· a precise definition of support mechanisms;

· improved targeting of potential actors;

· the determination of everyone’s roles and responsibilities to ensure the internal coherence of programmes;

· the promotion of employment. Income generation should favour the development of small-scale industries. Credit facilities should be granted by commercial banks, and the setting up of community banks should be reinforced as a priority. Efforts should be made to legitimize the informal sector;

· the reinforcement of technical capabilities and management of small-scale entrepreneurs (informal sector);

· the promotion of participatory justice, particularly at the neighbourhood and community level, which could arrest the growth of urban violence and street justice, and contribute to social cohesion.

Central and local governments need to undertake the roles of facilitators and extension agents. Financial institutions, NGOs, CBOs and the private sector should be involved in a dialogue for policy and strategy formulation and implementation in the fight against poverty in human settlements.

REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON SHELTER

Housing is a key sector of the economy with a significant impact on broader economic and social goals. It must be accorded due recognition and not viewed simply as a social service. Further, access to housing should be recognized not only as a basic need but also a basic human right.

The principles of the Global Strategy for Shelter (GSS) have been adopted by many African governments, however, national strategies and programmes have not yet created the enabling environment necessary for shelter provision and production. This slow shift is attributable to a number of factors particularly an availability of long-term loanable funds, inappropriate planning and land policies, as well as the lack of recognition of the informal sector.

African governments are, therefore, urged to take urgent measures to review their shelter strategies with a view to making them relevant to prevailing situations. Such measures should include formulation of relevant policies, creation of appropriate institutions and elimination of regulations and practices that constrain shelter delivery systems and hinder access to housing for all, especially women. In particular, governments should recognize and encourage the resourcefulness of the private as well as the informal sector. In this way, significant progress is likely to be made towards the achievement of the objectives shelter for all.

REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON GOVERNANCE

The conclusions to be drawn from an examination of the African social and economic crisis is that states in Africa are not suitably equipped to take a leading role in human settlements development and, as a result most investments in human settlements have been made by the people themselves, and most recently, by the poor. Human settlements and institutional practices in Africa have been paternalistic and patronising towards the societies under their jurisdiction inhibiting rather than encouraging initiatives at the local level. This relationship has adversely affected the course of economic development.

People in Africa have demonstrated their vitality and resource fulness in their daily struggle for survival. They constitute a strong vibrant civil society. Their efforts should be encouraged and they need to be empowered by devolution of power from the centre to the local community level. In order for the people to use this effectively the devolution process must be accompanied by institutional capacity-building at the local level.

Central government functions and authority should be decentralized to become accessible at the local level. Such decentralization must be accompanied by effective delegation of authority and power to raise revenue locally.

REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

The principal objectives of Habitat II in the area of environmental management for sustainable human settlement in Africa are to make the world recognise that:

(1) humans and wildlife are endangered species in Africa today,

(2) biodiversity in Africa means a place to live, work, and sleep for all men, women and children, and

(3) habitat is our theme over the next decade and environment is our setting.

We need to strike a new balance between habitat and the environment, compatible with the needs and priorities of the African people so that they can effectively contribute to the survival of our planet.

The key environmental management issues that should be developed in the preparation of Habitat II are listed below:

1. Institutionalization of preventive policies and programmes instead of merely measures for controlling environmental degradation;

2. Appropriate valuation and sustainable use of natural resources, such as land, forests and water;

3. The organization of the African continent into balanced ecological and cultural zones to facilitate the management of the region’s natural resources;

4. The mobilization of local resources and capacities to achieve self reliance and sustainable development;

5. The application of flexible planning methods, processes and technologies that are responsive to the rapid change in conditions in African cities;

6. The widening of the interface of exchange and communication between the media, the general public, NGOs, governments and the business and research communities to promote public awareness;

7. The mobilization of public participation in the identification of priorities and in the formulation of policies and programmes for sustainable human settlements;

8. The strengthening African cultural practices conducive to waste reduction, recycling and re-use.

9. The creation of an environment policy conducive to the development and expansion of local businesses capable of responding to the growing need for environmental services.

REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

(RELIEF TO DEVELOPMENT CONTINUUM (RDC))

Africa has had more than its share of disasters such as drought, cyclones, locust infestation, over the past two decades. These, have had a catastrophic impact on economic development and have left millions of Africans destitute. In addition, civil strife now features prominently in the disaster equation. The Expert Group fully recognized the need to refocus disaster planning, taking into account strong ramifications and profound implications for human settlements environment and planning.

There will also be the need to investigate the causes of civil strife which eventually lead to much human misery, loss of life and loss of productivity. This recognition introduces the topic of conflict resolution into the relief to development continuum.

The Group recommends putting relief and development continuum policies and institutional frameworks at the highest levels in all countries. Such frameworks should have vertical and horizontal linkages at local and international levels. All actors must engage in all stages of the continuum, with particular emphasis on preventive and forward planning and sustainable development.

A successful RDC strategy requires that those affected be represented in the preparatory process for Habitat II. In addition, central governments should provide an enabling mechanism so that local authorities can play a more positive role and are empowered to mobilize resources to effectively coordinate local action.