Mrs. Tibaijuka recalled that UN-HABITAT is part of the larger United Nations humanitarian team and that the organization will render assistance particularly in the areas of property rights and land issues.
Mr. Dissanayake informed the Executive Director that the Government of Sri Lanka was taking very serious steps to deal with the post-conflict situation in the country and to settle the refugees and the internally displaced persons. He noted that there was resource constraint and expressed the hope that UN-HABITAT would assist in the reconstruction efforts.
The envoy commended UN-HABITAT for the past assistance to the country, including the support the country received from the organization in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Mrs. Tibaijuka noted that during an association spanning over three decades, UN-HABITAT has assisted Sri Lanka in the planning and implementation of many of its key national development programmes, including the preparation and implementation of the Colombo Master Plan (1978-1983), the Million Houses Programme (1984-1989) and the Million-and-a-Half Houses Programme (1989-1993).
She said that UN-HABITAT and the Government of Sri Lanka have maintained a longstanding collaborative relationship in human settlement management in the country.
The Executive Director also informed the envoy that there are at present 23 civil society organizations from the country that have working relations with UN-HABITAT and were accredited to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3 to 14 June 1996.
These organizations work, among other issues, to enhance peoples’ participation in the decision-making processes, and improve the quality of life of those in the low-income sectors of society. They also work to integrate and exchange experiences between organizations and persons interested in the subject of human settlements and the environment as well as promote the measures to be taken for water resources conservation and basic sanitation.
She said that others assist in developing integrated housing information and technologies and carry out socio-economic, technical and physical studies on urban housing, including the building of low-cost houses by using quality construction materials and appropriate construction technologies at the community level.
Mrs. Tibaijuka informed the envoy that the Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF) of UN-HABITAT has worked with many stakeholders in Sri Lanka, including the Government, Local Governments, Municipalities, the Society of Mayors, Service Providers, Slum Dwellers Organisations and Federations in their slum upgrading plans. She noted that this has led to the increase in the concept of slum upgrading throughout Sri Lanka and to the creation, in 2008, of the Lanka Financial Services for Underserved Settlements (LFSUS).
The Executive Director invited Mr. Dissanayake to participate in UN-HABITAT activities, including the Committee of Permanent Representatives and its working groups and the Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF5) to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 22-26 March 2010.