The Government of China on Monday pledged a donation of US$ 500,000 for UN-HABITAT’s Tsunami appeal.
At a meeting in Nairobi with UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the visiting Chinese Vice Prime Minister, Mr. Zeng Peiyan, said his government was impressed with the work of the UN agency and especially the partnerships it had forged. He said his government was keen on exploring further areas of cooperation with UN-HABITAT in the future.
An undersea earthquake on 26 December 2004 set off giant tsunami waves that brought widespread devastation in the countries around the Indian Ocean rim claiming an estimated 150,000 lives, and causing damage and destruction that affected the lives of close to 5 million survivors.
UN-HABITAT’s immediate response to the tsunami disaster is focusing on emergency and transition shelter, restoration of critical infrastructure particularly water and sanitation facilities, clean-up, land use planning and improving the livelihoods of the affected populations, by assuring them jobs in the efforts to rebuild their environment. In the longer term, plans are being put in place for a broader sustainable recovery that minimises the risk of future catastrophes, for instance, by establishing sound physical planning systems and using appropriate building technologies to protect new settlements from similar threats.
Mr. Peiyan said that due to its policy of putting people first, the Chinese government appreciated the UN-HABITAT mission especially in areas of provision of sustainable human settlements. China was at a period of rapid growth with 20 million people moving to urban areas each year which was posing a severe challenge to provision of services like education, shelter and social safety networks, he said.
Mrs. Tibaijuka expressed her appreciation for the kind gesture and on her own behalf and UN-HABITAT, promised that every dollar would be put to the intended use. Paraphrasing an African proverb saying that giving is not out of abundance but of a willing heart, Mrs. Tibaijuka said she looked forward to even greater cooperation with the Government of China. The Vice Prime Minister’s visit to UN-HABITAT showed the importance the Chinese government attached to the agency’s work, she said, adding that China understood the urbanization challenges in developing countries.
The Executive Director said it has been her challenge to African Mayors to borrow a leaf from China, where despite a big population, proper planning had ensured adequate provision of shelter and services.