China’s Vice Minister for Construction, Ms. Wenjuan Fu renewed her government’s commitment to work with UN-HABITAT towards sustainable urbanization during a meeting with the agency’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka.
Mrs. Tibaijuka and Ms. Fu, accompanied by a team of 10 officials from her ministry and the Chinese embassy in Kenya, discussed several joint initiatives including preparation for the fourth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF4), which will be hosted in Nanjing, China, from 03-07 November 2008. The last World Urban Forum, held in Vancouver in 2006, was attended by over 10,000 people, from non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, urban professionals, academics, to governments, local authorities and national and international associations of local governments. The Forum has become the premier venue for key actors to discuss urban issues in formal and informal ways and come up with action-oriented proposals to create sustainable cities.
The Government of China agreed to provide technical assistance for a social housing project in Tanzania. Under this project, which focuses on women, experts from Yangzhou will provide support for the construction of new affordable housing to low-income groups in Tanzania. In 2006, Yangzhou received a Habitat Scroll of Honour for conservation of the old city and improving the residential environment. The city invested some US$770 million to solve housing problems for over 148,000 people by renovating 3,050 housing units in the city centre, and constructing 33,000 units of affordable houses.
The discussions also covered existing programmes including the Mekong Region Water and Sanitation programmes in Yunnan and Guangxi and the Sustainable Cities Programme. The Greater Mekong sub-region covers Cambodia, China's southern Yunnan Province, the Laos, and Vietnam. It is home to some 250 million people who have had social, cultural and economic linkages dating back many centuries. With impressive growth rates ranging between 5 -10 percent per annum during the 1990s and early 2000s, the region has recorded equally high rates of urbanization. In Vietnam, the urban population is expected to grow from the current figure of 23 percent of total population to 45 percent by the year 2020.
Under this programme UN-HABITAT works with governments, the Asian Development Bank and other partners in the region, including the private sector and local communities, to build local capacity and transfer water and sanitation technology, increase investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, improve household water treatment, and supply safe water to towns and villages.
Mrs. Tibaijuka and Ms. Fu signed Memorandums of Understanding on behalf of UN-HABITAT and the Government of China to renew and further strengthen collaboration for the Mekong Region Water and Sanitation Programme and UN-HABITAT Beijing Information Office.