The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) last week established its first Country Programme 2011-2013 in Cuba.
The programme was launched by Cuba's Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade Mr. Orlando Hernández Guillen and UN-HABITAT's Officer in Charge of the Regional Office for Latin America and Caribbean Countries Mr. Alain Grimard.
It has three main work areas: urban governance and climate change; urban infrastructure, basic services, and the environment as well as support for the housing sector. Responding to the priorities of the country programme, UN-HABITAT has started implementing two projects totaling $570,000 with funding from the Spanish agency for international development, the Swiss agency for development and cooperation and the Colombian NGO "Back to the People"(Volver a la Gente).
These two projects consist of the systematization of housing recovery experiences in three Cuban provinces and a South-South cooperation with Colombia to strengthen citizen capacity in adapting to climate change and foster risk reduction processes in 7 municipalities. Furthermore, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the National Housing Institute, the Institute of Physical Planning, and Municipal governments, UN-HABITAT will implement a recovery project and support improved housing policies. This project is in line with Cuba's updated economic and social policy guidelines discussed during Cuba's sixth party congress in 2011.
Following the aforementioned Party congress which opted to support a certain privatization of the housing sector, including issues related to ownership and construction materials - among others – UN-HABITAT will spearhead a breakthrough technical cooperation with national institutions that consists of creating a housing profile, doing exchanges and specialized studies, developing an institutional and financial monitoring strategy and implementing demonstrative projects throughout the country. This program, which will be worth 2.5 million dollars, would be implemented over a 3-year period and should begin in 2011, with the participation of various state actors and the civil society.