A group of Namibian members of parliament this week made a study tour of UN-HABITAT where they learnt firsthand the workings of the agency.
The parliamentary delegation was headed by the chairperson Cletius S. Sipapela and included newly elected members of the Standing Committee on Habitat and the Standing Committee on Regional Development and Reports in the National Council of Namibia.
During the visit, the legislators pledged continued support for UN-HABITAT in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals - especially Target 10 and 11 of Goal 7 for which UN-HABITAT is responsible.
The main purpose of the visit was to know more about the mandate, organizational structure and operational activities globally and in Namibia in particular. The delegation explored the possibility of further engagement with UN-HABITAT through normative and operational activities - including facilitation of relationships with donors to achieve better quality of life for Namibians.
They were briefed and given presentations by divisions and branches across the agency, learning more about UN-HABITAT's intra-governmental procedures and work with those divisions and branches including Youth , Gender, Slum Upgrading, Housing Policy, Disaster Mitigation, Climate Change, Water & Sanitation others. They ended by extending an invitation to the Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos to visit Namibia and address a session of parliament soon.
The highlight of the visit was on Tuesday when the delegation joined UN-HABITAT staff in a field visit to the Kibera Soweto-East slums during which they toured the Resource Center being developed for sick infants/toddlers, disabled children, underserved youth, and the wider Soweto-East community. In addition, they viewed local water and sanitation facilities and learned more about the construction of the road leading into the village (a joint initiative of UN-HABITAT and the Government of Kenya).
The legislators emphasized that the problems faced in Kibera are familiar to them in their own country, and that they look forward to learning from the Kibera experience as they develop and implement their own initiatives in Namibia. The MPs said that they were encouraged to see local involvement of Youth in development activities.