In a US$14 million initiative Chad will upgrade housing for poor families in the capital, N'Djamena, and the construction and renovation work will offer job opportunities and improve livelihoods, helping reduce poverty in the central African country.
The Government is providing nearly $12 million for the work, adding to a $2 million UNDP contribution, and UN HABITAT is executing the project. Solving urban problems, particularly housing, is an important public issue and a government priority.
Chad is one of the world's poorest countries, but new oil earnings enable the Government to fund most of this effort to transform poor areas. The initiative marks a new era in cooperation with UNDP.
Mahamat Ali Hasan, Minister of Planning, Development and Cooperation, emphasized that UNDP support in many forms is helping the Government's development efforts. The UNDP funds will go to technical assistance and management to strengthen public administration and good governance.
Under the initiative, 1,000 plots of land will go to families in slum areas and low interest loans to enable them to build new homes. It will build infrastructure such as schools, health centres and markets in the area.
Because a main element of the project involves loans for home building, repayment will provide resources to replicate the initiative in other towns, and continue it on an ongoing basis.
This will promote progress towards two of the Millennium Development Goal for 2015 endorsed by every world leader: Goal 1 of halving extreme poverty and Goal 7 on the environment, which includes the target of improving the lives of slum dwellers.
Other phases include refurbishing a rundown neighbourhood consisting of 5,000 dwellings and preparing development plans for the country's main urban areas. This will also enable residents in poor areas to gain secure tenure rights.
Involvement of local businesses and civil society groups in construction and renovation will strengthen the private sector and improve skills.
Although the country adopted a national housing strategy five years ago, with help from UNDP and UN Habitat, it still lacks an urban planning framework and housing finance institutions, and procedures for developing and improving parcels of land are slow and inefficient.
Chad ranks 165th among 175 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index 2003 — based on how long people can expect to live, educational attainment and average income per person — and two thirds of the population lives in poverty on an average of $14 a month.