The Slum Upgrading and Prevention networking event, held at the 5th session of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, brought together more than 90 country representatives to discuss the results, challenges and successes posed by slum upgrading and prevention. The event was attended by representatives from the three programme regions, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), and the tripartite partnership consisting of the European Commission, the ACP Group of States and UN-HABITAT.
“As long as politicians continue to corruptly allocate land in our cities, we will never manage to develop our countries” said Mr Alioune Badiane, UN-HABITAT’s Director of the Regional Office for Africa and Arab States. This sparked off an intensive discussion on the challenges posed by slum upgrading and prevention, a programme undertaken in collaboration with the European Union and the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. “With 78% of its urban populations living in slums, the time for action is now,” observed Sir John Kaputin, former Secretary General of the ACP Group of States.
Mr. Clifford Everald Warmington, the President of the Governing Council and the Minister of State, Water and Housing from Jamaica as well as Sir John Kaputin, the former Secretary General of the ACP Group of States, insisted on the importance of addressing urban poverty alleviation for the 79 ACP countries through slum upgrading and prevention activities. Further, Sir John Kaputin took the opportunity to announce that the extension of the Participatory Slum Upgrading and Prevention Programme, to be financed by the European Commission and its Intra-ACP funds, is in the process of being finalized.
Participants at the networking event called for bottom-up and top-down processes in the fight against urban poverty. “Communities need to be involved of course but our leaders must lead” observed one participant. Echoing these concerns, Honorable Clifford Everald Warmington stressed that there was a need to plant a tree today so that the next generation could benefit from its shade. He noted that key stakeholders including the private sector had to be involved. Participants called for Governments to recognise that the Poorest of the Poor are most often found in urban areas. When there were calls from the floor for donors to respond with additional funding in support of urban development and shelter upgrading, Mr. Antonio Garcia Fragio from the European Commission was quick to respond. “We always follow the countries’ priorities,” said Mr. Antonio, it is up to you to convince your national authorities to put urban issues high on their agenda.”
Francisco Livramento, from the Government of Cape Verde, thanked UN-HABITAT for its innovative approach to slum upgrading and said that his government had decided to implement the Urban Profiling methodology, using their own funds, as a means of national, regional and local planning across 22 municipalities.