The observance of the World Habitat Day in Kenya was held amidst pomp and celebration at the Uwanja wa Maendeleo grounds, a rehabilitated playground in Ziwa la Ng’ombe, one of the low income tenements in the coastal town of Mombasa.
The event was presided over by the Kenyan minister for Housing, Mr Soita Shitanda and was attended by top government officials and diplomats led by Kenyan Permanent Representative to UN-HABITAT Ambassador Macharia Kamau and Ambassador Agnes Kalibala, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN-HABITAT and representative of the African diplomatic corps.
Minister Shitanda said the Kenyan government had embarked on a review of building and urban planning laws and would soon table a Bill in parliament that proposes to create an authority that would oversee all issues relating to the urban planning and development.
“The government intends to take a more central role in planning our cities in order to position them for the global competition for investment,” he said.
The celebrations were a climax of a week of activities that included a tree planting exercise, a soccer match between youth groups in Mombasa and a clean up at the Uwanja wa Maendeleo grounds.
Mr. David Kithakye of UN-HABITAT said there was need to involve all players in participatory and inclusive planning, and urged Kenyan authorities to take urban planning seriously if the government’s Vision 2030 plan to achieve industrialized nation status by that year is to be realised.
Minister Shitanda also presented cheques for a total of USD 60,000 to the winners of the Youth Opportunities Fund and thanked the Norwegian government for its contribution to the fund.