Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos and senior officials of his government on Monday for the global celebration of World Habitat Day 2008.
Mrs. Tibaijuka called on the Angolan authorities to allocate 10 percent of their oil income to upgrade their towns, cities and villages for the benefit all, especially the poorest of the poor and with respect for the human rights of all. She said she was pleased that the Angolan authorities were using the occason of World Habitat Day to announce a series of important social housing initiatives.
“We commend you Mr. President and Honourable Ministers, for the importance that the Government of Angola attaches, among other urgent priorities, to the delivery of social housing and basic services, like water and energy for Angolan families,” she said in her keynote address.
In her address, Mrs. Tibaijuka pledged UN-HABITAT’s support for the new Angola Slum Upgrading Programme and the new National Social Housing Programme.
“We are here to help you as you requested, especially with some of the technical and institutional aspects of this process. And in taking up your request, UN-HABITAT is confident that the Government of Angola will ensure with us that this excellent rehabilitation programme will forge ahead on the basis of equity, fairness and in full respect for human rights – especially for the poorest of the poor and people living in urban slums,” she said. “I believe it will also take into account the special challenges and needs of women, and the children they support.”
She cited at the length the lessons to be shared on World Habitat Day. These included the bad arising from the global mortgage finance crisis in the developed world, to China’s exemplary urban modernisation plan.
“We in the United Nations system have a responsibility to remind all countries, whether rich or poor, that they are not immune from the impacts of poverty. And that is why, as we all worry how the global financial crisis will hit us as ordinary people, we must remind all again that investment in basic urban services and adequate shelter is essential. When we get it right we derive economic, social and health benefits for all,” she added.
“Mr. President, I do not have to tell you that 85 percent of the Angolan population representing some 7.5 million of this country’s growing number of urban dwellers live in slum conditions. For a country rich in natural resources, expecially oil, we are sure that the means are there to address these needs now that this country has earned its rightful place as a country at peace,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said. Let me therefore make a proposal for your consideration: Make this day historic by allocating just 10 percent of the country’s oil revenue for the delivery of harmonious cities and towns in this country!”
In response, President dos Santos said his government had commited itself to providing some 1 million housing units in the current 4 year term, and that it was waging a what he called a sustained war against chaotic urbanisation. He also agreed with the UN-HABITAT request that the government set aside 10 percent of its oil income for social housing.
"Urbanisation comes with challenges but we are prepared to face them," he said
The Exeuctive Director also conferred the World Habitat Day awards. She said it was not by coincidence that this year for the first time, the highest award conferred by the United Nations system in this field – the Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation – went not to an outstanding individual, but to a Chinese city, Nanjing. At the next level, the cities of Shaoxing and Zhangjiagang were given the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award, along with the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the Tatarstan city of Bugulma, in the Russian Federation, and Ciudad Juarez a major Mexican city on the United States border.
As scrores of cities, schools, universities, governments, non-governmental organizations around the world used the World Habitat Day theme, harmonious cities, to take stock of the state of their towns and cities at a time of rapid urbanisation caused by unprecedented urban growth and migration
A special messsage from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read out in Luanda was also disseminated at other World Habitat Day events around the world. See: www.unhabitat.org/whd
In UN-HABITAT’s home country, Kenyans celebrated World Habitat Day against the backdrop of traditional pomp and glamour provided by bull fighting teams in Kakamega, the provincial headquarters of Western Province.
In Bahrain, the Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa hailed the occasion at a special ceremony.
Also in Luanda, the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) of the United Kingdom, a key partner of UN-HABITAT presented its World Habitat Awards to two organisations that have shone in their endeavours to address the issue of human settlements.
The two organisations feted were the 'Champlain Housing Trust - Community Land Trust Innovation', of the United States, and a typhoon damage limitationm project in Viet Nam.
Established in Burlington, Vermont in 1984, the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) was an early pioneer of the community land trust approach of providing affordable housing in perpetuity. CHT’s homes are, on average, affordable to households earning only 57 per cent of the area’s median income and it has over 2,200 properties for low-cost home ownership and rental. Over 200 community land trusts have now been established throughout the United States, with pilot schemes currently being carried out in both Canada and the UK.
This Development Workshop France programme has worked over many years with families and local governments in Viet Nam to apply key principles of safe storm and flood resistant construction, both to existing and new homes, as well as to community buildings. Over 1,300 cyclone-resistant houses have been provided to date through the programme, with many other households choosing to use the construction techniques.
The Foundation is an independent research organisation that promotes sustainable development and innovation in housing through collaborative research and knowledge transfer.