Cover Image
close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 4, Number 1 (HABITAT, 1996, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe aim of the Network and its Journal
View the documentSecond United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) -''The City Summit'', Istanbul, Turkey. 3-14 June 1996
View the documentHabitat II and the Construction Sector
View the documentConstruction Sector For Housing And Infrastructure Delivery - An Issue Paper Prepared For The Habitat II Conference**
View the documentHabitat II - A Breakthrough for Non-governmental Organizations in Committee II of the Conference
View the documentHabitat II - Shelter-Afrique Launches a Continental Housing Investment Programme and Seeks to Expand Membership
View the documentCost - effective Building Technologies - Technology Transfer, Dissemination and Extension: The Indian experience***
View the documentHabitat II - Conference closes as Habitat Agenda is Adopted, UNCHS to be Strengthened as Implementing Agency
View the documentEvents
View the documentPublications Review
View the documentBack cover




Bearing in mind the African Ministers declaration adopted in Nairobi on March 30, 1994, relating to the preparation of the second United Nations Conference on Human settlements (Habitat II) - "the City Summit" which will take place in Istanbul in June 1996.

Bearing also in mind the decision of the Preparatory Committee of Habitat II Conference at its first substantive session held in Geneva, from 11 to 22 April, 1994.

Taking note of the Declarations of Dakar on October 4. 1994 and Kampala on February 28, 1995.

Aware of the cities driving role in the subregion economic. political, social and cultural development, as well as the complementary relationship existing between cities and the rural world.

Taking into account the situation of Human Settlements in Africa and mainly in the subregion, which is characterized by an intensive urban crisis and a continuous deterioration of the living conditions of the poorest, due mainly to:

· The high demographic increase rate with an ever increasing urbanization, which makes it imperative to better manage the urban development.

· The deterioration of the general conditions of habitat and urban environment which will come to an end with the supply of services and the setting-up of appropriate infrastructures for water supply, electricity, telephone, solid-wastes management, sanitation and public transportation.

· The weakness of interventions in the area of urban development and land policies which causes a chronic shortage of adequate housing and affordable for low-income people.

· The disregard of many non-official land production channels and the complexity of official procedures which perpetuates precarious situations and under-equipment.

· The importance of political and social crises and natural disasters, which particularly affect human settlements and the need to undertake preventive actions for reconstruction and development in favour of stricken communities.

Aware of the troubles and delay experienced by most countries in the subregion in preparing their National Plans of Action for Habitat II.

We, the Ministers in charge of Habitat and Urban Development, reaffirm that cities, towns and villages must be part of an area of priority action for governments of countries in the subregion for this purpose, we solemnly undertake to:

1. Adopt and implement facilitator, participative and innovative policies in the area of urban development. land and urban management and habitat, in order to reach Habitat II targets, which are:

- an adequate housing for all

- a sustainable development of human settlements in an urbanizing world

2. Define and implement programmes aiming at preserving environment, improving infrastructure and basic services, as well as reducing urban poverty, which are three closely linked parameters.

3. Closely collaborate with municipalities and favour decentralization in order to improve the technical and financial management of towns and their effectiveness in the promotion of social and economic development.

4. Favour the emergence of dynamic municipal land policies including the setting up of land reserves, which can be made possible by a greater autonomy granted to municipalities in the management of their financial resources and the financing of their urbanization through a contractual basis in their relationships with the Government, the possibility to have access to credit and promote an appropriate tax system. The Government should therefore strengthen its capabilities to control the legality of municipal actions and look after the respect of basic national social balances.

5. Revise, should the occasion arise, the legal and regulation framework and land management which is at the root of the human settlements development, by acknowledging the various land production channels, allowing the various tenure status, trying to rationalize them and carrying out policies of land regularization so as to favour access to land, mainly for poor people.

6. Encourage and develop actions and strategies at the neighbourhood level, mainly through non-governmental organizations and basic communities, which makes it possible to improve the living environment and reduce urban poverty.

7. Look after the development of national urban network, which is essential for the development of the rural world. particularly thanks to adequate investments in secondary cities and communication infrastructures.

8. Strengthen the role of women in the development of human settlements by making land, resources and decision-making processes fairly accessible to them.

9. Mobilize youth in creating better conditions for their access to education and favouring their participation in urban management and decision-making process.

10. Promote the setting up and the implementation of innovative, appropriate and facilitatory financing machineries of credit for poor people, taking into account their informal undertakings both in urban and rural areas.

11. Develop channels of production, diffusion and supply for locally-produced materials in order to lower building costs, favour job opportunities and save foreign currencies. Should the occasion arise, amend building codes and regulations in order to make their use possible.

12. Define preventive strategies for natural and man-made disasters, resolution of the massive and lasting refugee problems and victims of disasters, for the control of urban violence, which can be made possible by way of a broader political stability in the region and the promotion of the harmonious and fair relationships between social groups.

13. Actively participate in preparing Habitat II by way of carrying out a broader possible national consultation with the different actors of human settlements: Governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions, private sector, basic communities, research workers and scholars.

14. Prepare before December 1, 1995 National Plans of Action answering the main problems of people living in towns and villages as stressed by various actors, specifically:

- the gathering of urban sector and housing indicators as defined by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements;

- the analysis of current policies and their effectiveness;

- the selection of some model policies or successful actions, for a national and international publicity;

- the setting up of a priority programme of actions for the period 1996-2000.

15. Appeal to multilateral and bilateral organizations in order for them to support the countries of the subregion in their preparatory works of Habitat II Conference.


Executive Summary of Johannesburg Declaration on the African Common Position for the Habitat II Adopted by the African Ministers

Ministers in charge of Human Settlements in all the countries of the African Region met in Johannesburg, South Africa from 16 to 18 October 1995 to consolidate a strategy for effective African participation in, and to support, the implementation of the two themes of the Habitat Agenda: adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world.

The Declaration produced is a statement of shared vision and commitment to dedicate common resources for implementing the Habitat Agenda in Africa.

While acknowledging the need for worldwide focus on human settlements issues, the Ministers placed special emphasis on an African perspective, stressing financial resources mobilization, resolution of conflicts, land issues, rural-urban development balance, urban poverty and the deteriorating urban environment as key issues.

African policies must address both urban and rural needs, provide infrastructure in rural areas, and encourage private sector involvement through direct incentives to invest in rural areas.

The African region is plagued by the problem of persistent massive refugees and displaces persons as a result of natural and man-made disasters. Solutions must be implemented which conform root causes of such displacement as well as environmental degradation and civil violence. In particular, the urgent situations in Rwanda, Burundi. Liberia and Sierra Leone must be recognized by the international community.

Sustainable human settlements require appropriate and environmentally-sound land-use planning. Such planning must recognize the continuum of rural regions, cities and towns and must take into account the potentially dire ramification of the expansion of cities which depletes already stressed water, land and energy resources and threatens cultural and geological monuments.

As the engines that drive economic development, cities require efficient infrastructure and services including energy, waste disposal, transport and communication. Increasingly, local authorities must be given greater power and fiscal responsibility for providing such services. Public and private partnerships must be encouraged to generate new resources and to involve popular participation in municipal decision-making.

Sustainable human settlements are achievable only through popular participation and civic education. Legislative reform must be enacted which encourages and expands participation of the private sector, local authorities and non-governmental organizations.

To ensure civic participation at all levels, priority must be given to the issue of land-tenure reform and security of tenure, to guarantee equitable access to land by all citizens, especially the poor, disadvantaged and women.

Fiscal reform must be implemented. Innovative financial mechanisms must be created to ensure access to finance, including mobilization of pension and insurance funds and bonds. These new mechanisms, while allowing citizens access to finance, must also include global measures such as debt reduction or cancellation.

National economies must be stimulated to attract private investment, generate employment, increase revenues and provide a strong economic base. To this end, we urge the creation of an International Fund to elicit contributions from countries and international institutions, directed at addressing the human settlements problems in Africa.

Human capital is critical for the effective functioning of an economy. We must invest in basic education and vocational training while addressing the root causes of poverty, with special emphasis on female-headed households. Women play a critical role in the human settlements agenda and must be guaranteed full rights, including the right to inheritance and ownership of land, property and security of tenure.

The special needs of the elderly, the disabled and youth must be recognized. Millions of children in the African region live in dire circumstances. Such children, as our most vulnerable citizens, must be provided with special protection and assistance.

Our urban citizens continue to be victims of crime and violence. Neighbourhood-based crime prevention and conflict resolution programmes must be implemented to offer protection and to build united communities.

To further strengthen community involvement, production of building materials must be localized. Reform of building technologies, codes and regulations is required to reduce costs, provide employment and new opportunities for shelter.

To ensure that these critical issues are addressed and solutions developed, regional organizations must co-operate with UNCHS (Habitat) to implement the Habitat Agenda in Africa. We urge such organisations, member states and all relevant partners to attend to the Third Substantive Session of the Preparatory Committee in New York and the UN Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul in June 1996.

Our commitment to the human settlements agenda must go beyond the Habitat II Conference. The General Assembly should recognize Habitat as an agency to coordinate the implementation and follow-up of the Global Plan of Action and should provide additional resources for this mandate. We pledge our continued involvement in implementing the human settlements agenda and will meet annually to monitor our progress.


About 100 African private-sector representatives attended a round-table meeting which was held during the Regional Ministerial Meeting for Africa on preparation for the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Johannesburg.

The private-sector representative called on their governments to establish and pursue, as a matter of policy, the partnership between the public and private sectors with a view to achieving rapidly the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in Africa.

In a joint Declaration, the private-sector representatives recommended to the Ministerial Meeting the need for African governments to recognize shelter provision and the human settlements sector as "major engines for economic growth" and "to undertake necessary land reforms and land market decentralization in order to facilitate private-sector investment in housing and related infrastructure development". The Declaration also called for, among other things, the establishment of national forums involving the private sector and all Ministries concerned to "facilitate an effective partnership in response to the challenges of providing adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlement development".

This declaration is the first step forward in the evolution of a private-sector partnership with governments to implement the Global Plan of Action - the blueprint for sustainable human settlements development that will emerge out of the Habitat II Conference next June - and to help develop a strategic agenda for delivery of affordable housing in Africa.

Dr. Wally N'Dow, the Secretary-General of Habitat II, who is determined to make partnership between the public and private sectors a key principle in the Habitat II Global Plan of Action, said that "partnership between governments and the private sector would be profitable for both sectors in the long run. Private-sector investment in housing and infrastructure, particularly in cities, is a sure win-win situation in the struggle for economic growth and development".

Dr. Wally N'Dow explained: "Such a partnership, for the accelerated development of human settlements and infrastructure in Africa, has several advantages, both in the short - and long-run. In the short-run, it has a great potential of changing, in a positive way, the supply of adequate and affordable shelter in many countries. It can introduce economies of scale and efficiencies in the supply side to meet changing patterns of demand. In the long-term, infrastructure development can also increasingly become a function of the private sector, leading progressively to a culture of meaningful cost recovery in this sector. This.... is a necessary ingredient in the efficient provision of infrastructural services, especially if such services are to be financed by private capital, from whatever source. Experience has shown us that Governments are not usually well-placed to implement cost-recovery measures as they are often constrained by consideration of political and social expediency."

The Secretary-General of Habitat II urged the African private-sector representatives to consult with their governments on how best to participate in the Habitat II Conference and encourage them to take part in the Istanbul Trade Fair on Good Ideas for Better Cities which will take place parallel to the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul.

This private-sector roundtable was coordinated by Shelter-Afrique on behalf of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Republic of South Africa, the host country. Participants at this Roundtable included housing developers, financial experts, brokers, contractors and researchers.


The third and the last Preparatory Committee of Habitat II Conference succeeded in endorsing, conditionally, major portions of a proposed statement of principles and commitments as well as the global plan of action to be submitted to the conference in June 1996.

The Preparatory Committee noted that, due to time constraints, portions of the final document would be submitted to the conference as having been informally negotiated during the preparatory process, but not formally approved.

The proposed final document. "The Habitat Agenda", is intended as a global call to action at all levels and a guide towards the achievement of the sustainable development of the world's cities, towns and villages into the first two decades of the next century.

Following extended negotiations during the session, a number of issues remained unresolved in the proposed text, including the right to adequate housing, an institutional arrangement for follow-up to the plan of action and financial resources needed for implementation.

One area of progress during the third session, as reflected in the proposed text. concerned the idea of partnerships, which would be based on the willingness of national governments to work with local authorities on the Agenda. All partners would be encouraged to work with non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Dr. Wally N'Dow, Secretary-General of the Conference, in a closing statement, said that the negotiations over the Agenda, "have been long and hard, but we leave here with many brackets of issues and phraseology that have, thus far, defied our most intense efforts". He expressed confidence that, in spite of the difficulties, the negotiating process now under way in Habitat Preparatory Committee would succeed, and when it was over...."and that may not be until Istanbul itself... we will have a Global Plan of Action that reflects a global consensus".

He went on to say that enormous progress had been made in the evaluation and understanding of the notion of the right to housing. Gains had also been made in agreement on the affirmative obligations of government to help make housing habitable, affordable and accessible. He stressed that partnership had become a compelling theme for the Conference.

Noting that some 1,200 non-governmental representatives from nearly 400 organizations had been part of the committee's third session, Dr. Wally N'Dow highlighted the important role played in the preparatory process by women's groups and by young people. He stressed that there would be no retreat in Istanbul from the commitments made in Beijing, Cairo, Rio and at other world conferences.

According to the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, Mr. Martti Lujanen (Finland), the unresolved issues would be the subject of informal negotiations in the period leading up to Istanbul, and would be taken up again formally during pre-Conference consultations. In closing the session, he stated that the question of what was meant by good or sustainable development was, in essence, political. The Istanbul Conference would have to decide on the development paradigm for the towns and cities in the next century.

Addressing the closing of the session, Mr. James Gustave Speth, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), welcomed the progress made by the Preparatory Committee. He said that Habitat II provided an unparalleled opportunity to integrate a range of goals related to such issues as sustainable development, human rights, social development, and population control. The success of the entire continuum of world conferences, including Habitat II, would depend on whether the words were translated into action and on what efforts were made to follow-up on the conferences.

The UNDP had produced a document on the United Nations integrated approach to follow-up to the World Conferences, he continued. That document, detailed how the World Bank, the UNDP and the other United Nations agencies were working together on the follow-up to those conferences. The UNDP awaited the Habitat II results, so that it could be integrated into that approach.

Also during its third session, the Preparatory Committee approved the list of non-governmental organizations and local authorities recommended for accreditation of the Conference, as well as the provisional agenda for the Conference and the report of the Committee on the session.