|Journal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 3, Number 3 (HABITAT, 1995, 42 p.)|
Regional Workshop on urban poverty and governance in Southern and Eastern Africa, 14-16 March 1996, Nairobi
African countries are rapidly urbanizing, and it is envisaged that most sub-Saharan African countries will be over 50 per cent urban by the year 2010. The rapidly increasing pressure on urban areas is causing considerable strain on towns and cities in terms of the need to expand and create new infrastructure, provide basic social services and create employment. The demand in each area far outstrips the supply, while the majority of the young school leavers are streaming to the main towns in search of employment.
UNCHS (Habitat) and the Ford Foundation consider poverty reduction and promotion of social equity key priorities for development. In terms of technical cooperation with developing countries, this translates into support to municipal government, community upgrading activities, research, policy advocacy and seminars. The main objective is capacity building at national municipal levels. As a part of these efforts, the Regional Workshop on Urban Poverty and Governance in Southern and Eastern Africa was held at UNCHS (Habitat) headquarters in Gigiri from 14 to 16 March 1995.
The Habitat workshop was an important input into the ongoing programming of the two agencies, the ongoing preparations for Habitat II and the development of a regional agenda for urban poverty reduction and governance. Participants from the World Bank's Municipal Development Programme (Southern and Eastern Africa module) had attended the workshop, which was intended to help them cooperate and complement each other's efforts.
This regional workshop was in tact the culmination of a programme of research and national workshop held in the following countries.
· South Africa
· United Republic of Tanzania
The regional programme is supported by the Ford Foundation, which has provided the bulk of the funding for activities. The programme is managed at UNCHS (Habitat) as part of the Urban Management Programme (UMP), which is a ten-year global technical cooperation programme designed to strengthen the contribution that cities and towns in developing countries make towards human development - including economic growth, social development and poverty reduction. It is a partnership of UNCHS (Habitat), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Programme's activities in Africa are coordinated from the regional office in Accra, Ghana.
Meeting of the African Ministers to prepare for Habitat II, Kampala, Uganda, 27-28 February 1995.
Her Excellency, Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, Vice-President of Uganda and Minister for Gender and Community Development, delivered the inaugural address to the sub regional meeting for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa on the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements - Habitat II. The meeting in Kampala is one of a series being organized to mobilize national preparations for Habitat II and to bring fresh ideas, intellectual analysis and lessons from national and local experiences into the deliberations of the conference which will be held in Istanbul in June 1996.
Fourteen African delegations, nine headed by Ministers, heard the Vice-President of the host country call upon Africa countries to cast aside the beggar mentality and chart a path to their own solutions for shelter and human settlements.
For too long Africa has been at the receiving end of ideas. We must initiate ideas on all fields of human endeavour. We should know our conditions and circumstances best because we live here, the Vice-President declared.
Noting that the themes of the Habitat II Conference are adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world, the Vice-President said, The phenomenon of homelessness is widespread in the world and each community and region must address it in their own way in response to their political, cultural and socio-economic conditions.
The Vice-President stressed that given the fact that the vast majority of Africans live in rural areas, it was important that an appropriate balance be achieved between development efforts in rural areas and those in urban areas.
The meeting was also addressed by the third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Dr. E.T.S. Adriko, who thanked the representatives from various bilateral and multilateral agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations who were attending the meeting and the ministers and their delegations.
In his statement, the Deputy Prime Minister said, The main objective of the Habitat II Conference.... contained in the decisions of the first Preparatory Committee Meeting in Geneva is to commit the world's leaders to make our cities, towns and villages healthy, safe, just and sustainable and adopt a Global Plan of Action to achieve this.
The Secretary General of Habitat II, Dr. Wally N'Dow, opened his address by commending Uganda fur its outstanding achievements in rising from the ashes of civil war and civil suite.
It is an example worthy of emulation here in Africa and everywhere. It gives us hope even as we feel the pain inflicted by the tragedies of other African countries now torn by civil war, violence and untold suffering. Dr. N'Dow said. But I need not tell you what you already know too well. I do want to tell you that we will solve our problems, that we will say our fellow Africans, to the entire international community, that tragedy is not the future for Africa. And the evidence is here, a fitting back drop for our meeting.
The Secretary General saw five objectives for the meeting: (i) the strengthening of political commitment to the preparatory process for Habitat II and to the Conference itself; (ii) the garnering of knowledge and insight from governmental and non-governmental institutions and organizations; (iii) the fostering of support of multilateral and bilateral organizations active in Africa; (iv) provision of a forum for an in-depth exchange of information and experiences; and (v) intensification of international awareness of the problems facing the sub-region.
Dr. N'Dow drew attention to the importance of the series of international conferences of this decade that began in Rio with the Earth Summit and which will end in Istanbul with Habitat II. This unprecedented continuum of conferences spans some of the most serious and pressing challenges that will confront the world community in the next century. Together they are providing us with a more holistic, more humane message about our global problems and about the cooperative solutions they require. And that in the final analysis is what Istanbul is all about.
The meeting closed its deliberations by issuing a declaration on the priorities for the sub region for the agenda of the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements - Habitat II and for its Global Plan of Action that will be the blueprint for human settlements development into the twenty-first century.
The Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) - Second session of the Preparatory Committee, Nairobi, 25 April - 5 May 1995
The second session of the Preparatory Committee for the Habitat II Conference, scheduled for Istanbul in June 1996, was held in Nairobi with calls by speakers to fit human settlements into the new development paradigm - sustainable human settlements - as part of preparations for a Conference of commitments in Istanbul.
The opening was graced by the presence of H.E. the Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya, Professor George Saitoti; the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, Mr. Martti Lujanen; and the Secretary-General of Habitat II, Dr. Wally N'Dow.
The Chairman of PrepCom II, Mr. Martti Lujanen noted that economic, social and ecological indicators all clearly showed that many current development trends were leading to the deterioration of our environment and living conditions. Yet numerous positive examples all over the world indicated how conscious policies can contribute to a reorientation.
This session of the PrepCom decided on the approach, main elements and outline of the main document of the Istanbul Conference: the Draft Statement and Principles and Commitments, and the Global Plan of Action. It also strengthened work at the national and local levels to implement the goals of Habitat II. Already a number of conferences; seminars and meetings were working to that end, as were sub regional ministerial level meetings organized under the Habitat II preparatory process. Following a series of international conferences, Habitat II would, he believed be an important cornerstone in building the new development paradigm for the next century.
Dr. Wally N'Dow, Secretary-General of Habitat II, then read the message of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros-Ghali. He said, Habitat II will conclude the series of global conferences held under the umbrella of the United Nations during this decade to forge the elements of a common global strategy of people-centred and sustainable development for the 21st century. The United Nations Secretary-General stressed the need to prepare for future urbanization through the 'City Summit' in Istanbul in 1996, and its Global Plan of Action, for the planet's sustainable development in the 21st century.
The United Nations Secretary-General's message also noted that the Governments and organizations assembled here today need to provide leadership and guidance for this great global undertaking, in which all elements in civil society must participate, and went on to express confidence in the Commission on Human Settlements to play its full part in that great endeavour.
In his own statement, Dr. N'Dow outlined steps on the journey to Istanbul which began with the first Preparatory Committee meeting for Habitat II in Geneva. Since then the host country, Turkey, had provided support and encouragement at every step, and the mandate to encourage a broad-based participatory process had been fulfilled in large measure. He went on to warn that both the urban threat and the rural dilemmas must be faced - as must the Rwandas, the Burundis and the Bosnias of this world, with their rampant destruction of life and livelihoods.
The impact of war and civil strife on human settlements and shelter had been raised in the Brazzaville Declaration for Habitat II. Thus the importance of regarding shelter as a centrepiece of social stability. Dr. N'Dow stated his belief that it should be a basic component of any public policy aimed at improving the living conditions of people everywhere. To that end, a true partnership was needed, with the active participation of all who are prepared to journey with us on the Road to Istanbul be they national governments, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, women's groups, youth, or the private sector. The Global Plan of Action would bridge differences and provide a real blueprint for enablement.
H.E. Professor George Saitoti, The Vice-President and Minister for Planning and National Development of the Republic of Kenya, described the importance of the second session of the Preparatory Committee for Habitat II, which had been given the responsibility by the international community to chart the future direction of human settlements. Unfavourable economic conditions, rapid population growth and the high rate of urbanization had brought about deterioration in human settlements, and there was a need to tackle obstacles which had impeded progress towards the achievement of shelter for all. He noted the need to improve critical inputs such as land and finance for the poor, to recognize the role of women, to support the poorest through innovative financial mechanisms.
In Kenya, the Government has recently adopted and gazetted the revised Building By-Laws and Planning Regulations, and was in the process of implementing safety nets in the housing sector to mitigate the negative effects of Structural Adjustment Programme. He mentioned the need for appropriate partnerships with the private sector and international community in developing quality and affordable housing. He also welcomed the enhancement of UNCHS (Habitat) as the human settlements focal point in the United Nations system. We further urge that in the restructuring of the United Nations, the Centre should be maintained as a distinct and separate entity, so as not to dilute the important role it plays in the promotion of shelter.
Following the opening ceremony, the session welcomed to its Bureau two new Vice-Chairpersons: the Permanent Representatives of Azerbaijan and of Sri Lanka to United Nations Headquarters in New York. They join H.E. Mrs. Pamela Mboya, Vice-Chairperson from Kenya.
The Head of the delegation of Turkey, host country for the City Summit, then addressed the gathering. He mentioned various events to take place in June 1996 - including a trade fair, exhibition on best practices, film festivals and concerts, symposia and seminars. Turkey's national committee was broad-based - with two thirds of its members representing non-governmental organizations. He stressed the overall need to strengthen participation, enhance partnership and good governance.