l-r: Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka and Mr. Hatem Atallah of Tunisia
The new Permanent Representatives of Tunisia to UN-HABITAT, Mr. Hatem Atallah, and his counterpart from Morocco, Mr. Abdelilah Benryane, on Tuesday presented their credentials to the Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka.
Briefing the Tunisian envoy on the activities of UN-HABITAT in his country, Mrs. Tibaijuka stated that the organization will soon begin the documentation of the lessons learned and best practices from the country’s experience in addressing the housing needs of its citizens. She said that the success in achieving a very high ownership rate of housing units in the country will be analysed so as to guide other countries in achieving UN-HABITAT's goal of adequate shelter for all.
The activity is funded by the Government of Canada and is part of a series of shelter profiles that UN-HABITAT is undertaking. Under the programme, consultations will be held with various stakeholders in the sector, including construction companies, government departments, brokers and property management companies, housing finance institutions, among others.
The Executive Director informed Mr. Atallah, that there are 18 civil society organizations from Tunisia that have working relations with UN-HABITAT. One of these organizations, Foundation El Taller, works with young women and men to seek non-violent means for social transformation. The organization has developed, on a regular basis, regional programmes in Africa, Asia, the Arab world, Mediterranean region, Latin and Central America by facilitating courts of women, international training courses roundtables, café conversations, seminars and conferences.
Other organizations form Tunisia work for the improvement of the quality of life and the living environment of the low-income sectors of the society in less developed countries. They also work to integrate and exchange experiences between organizations and persons interested in human settlements.
These organizations also assist in developing integrated housing information and technologies and carry out socio-economic, technical and physical studies on urban housing in specific fields of planning, urban development and construction. They also help in building low-cost houses by using quality construction materials and appropriate construction technologies at the community level.
Noting that Tunisia is very important member of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT, the Executive called on Mr. Atallah to help strengthen the relations between UN-HABITAT and Tunisia even further.
Mr. Atallah assured the Executive Director that he would do all he can to ensure that his government gives UN-HABITAT the high priority attention it deserves. He noted that 80% of Tunisians are middle-class and that the country has invested heavily in human development, such as education, health and housing. The envoy pointed out that there is a very even distribution of wealth in the Tunisia and that efforts were being made to face the various challenges facing the country.
During her meeting with Mr. Benryane of Morocco, Mrs. Tibaijuka congratulated the envoy on his elevation to the rank of a full ambassador. She observed that it was her first time of seeing a Deputy promoted to full Permanent Representative. The Executive Director and Mr. Benryane discussed the possibility of assisting in the reconstruction efforts in Palestine.
l-r: Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka and Mr. Abdelilah Benryane of Morroco
Mr. Benryane informed the Executive Director that Morocco had embarked on rapid implementation of slum upgrading programme in the country. He noted that, so far, twelve cities had benefitted from the cities without slums programme, which started in 2005.
The envoy invited the Executive Director to visit Moroccan to see for herself the progress the country was making in the implementation of its slum upgrading programme.
The Executive Director recalled that in November 2008, the Government of Morocco and UN-HABITAT signed a US$1.3 Million agreement for the implementation of local Agenda 21 process in five cities in the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom. The cities are: Assa, Guelmim, Tan Tan, Tarfaya and Tata.
The project aims to promote decision making for the local communities to ensure an integrated and sustainable development. It also aims to reinforce the decentralization process for a transparent local management in order to reduce poverty and end social exclusion.
The Executive presented the envoys with some UN-HABITAT’s publications including the new magazine, “Urban World.”