The Transition Authority of Kenya the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support sustainable urban development and management in the framework of the devolved system of Government.
Mr Kinuthia Wamwangi, Chairman of the Transition Authority and Dr Joan Clos, Executive Director of the UN-Habitat signed the agreement at a ceremony held at the Safari Park Hotel, in the presence of Ms Angeline Hongo, Vice Chairperson of the Transition Authority, members of the Transition Authority board and Mr Joe Hooper, head of Local Government and Decentralization Unit at UN-Habitat.
Speaking during the ceremony, Dr. Clos said that Kenya had witnessed rapid urban growth rates during the last four decades, and it is estimated that urban areas will account for 45% of the population by 2015. "Cities are the hubs of much national production and consumption, economic and social processes that generate wealth and opportunity. But they also create disease, crime, pollution, poverty and social unrest, "he said.
According to the Executive Director, UN-Habitat's programmes are designed to help policy-makers and local communities get to grips with the human settlements and urban issues and find workable, lasting solutions. The transition from a centralised to a devolved system of government was fraught with a number of challenges that should be addressed to leverage the potential of urban areas as a catalyst for national development and poverty reduction, "he added.
On his part, Mr. Wamwangi welcomed the move saying that his agency needed all the help it could get as it sets on the uncharted terruitory of devolution. "I Would like to extend my greatest appreciation to UN-Habitat and the Executive Director Dr. Clos for this gesture," he said.
The scope of the MoU consists of collaboration in urban governance at national, county and sub-county level in Kenya on policy matters. UN-Habitat, along with the Transition Authority and its partners, is looking forward to outlining major challenges of urban management under devolution and to prepare a demonstration project for a selection of counties and urban areas. They are looking ahead to jointly develop, mobilize resources and implement a County Urban Development Programme. The objective of the foreseen technical assistance is to develop capacities for an efficient, sustainable and equitable county urban development.
Coming just a few weeks after the official opening of the 24th session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat on 15th April 2013 by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, recalling his pledge to devolve services and resources to the counties, this agreement represents a new step in the commitment of UN-Habitat to support Kenyan authorities in the challenges of urbanization and devolution.