Pomp and glamour marked Kenya’s national World Habitat Day celebrations held in Thika, some 40 kilometers North-West of Nairobi.
Song and dance, acrobatic performances and poems marked the day which saw a huge turnout from government officials, UN-HABITAT members of staff and the public from all walks of life. In his speech, the Chief Guest who is also Kenya’s Minister for Housing Soita Shitanda underscored the need to make cities safer for all the inhabitants. Under the theme a safe city is a just city, the minister said one of the most significant causes of fear and insecurity in many cities today is crime and violence.
“As the world becomes increasingly urban, the government of Kenya understands the power of the city as a catalyst for national development. Kenya recognizes that cities have to be able to be able to provide inclusive living conditions for all their residents,” the Minister said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the UN-HABITAT Deputy Executive Director Mrs. Inga Bjork-Klevby, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that a worrying trend was developing globally where fear of crime was one of the major factors influencing people’s daily lives.
“In too many cities around the world, it dictates where we choose to live, shop, work and play. This is bad for human progress and for economic development – especially in a world where for the first time the number of urban slum dwellers is set to top the one billion mark,” he said. In a speech read on her behalf, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said that urban crime and violence were at the top of the agenda for those committed to sustainable urban development.
“ In every slum in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean and in most cities in the world, someone is being stalked, a woman is being harassed, a gun is being pointed in someone’s face, someone else assaulted and many, many others murdered and countless women are raped,” she said.