The UN-HABITAT family was thrown into mourning on Friday following the sudden death of its Country Technical Advisor in Chad, Mr. Francois Muhirwe.
Mr. Muhirwe, aged 54, died in his sleep in the early hours of Thursday in the capital, N’djamena. He is survived by his wife, Yolande Magonyagi and daughter, Keiti Muihirwe, 13. Until late last year when he took up his new appointment, Mr. Muhirwe was the UN-HABITAT Programme Manager in Burundi.
His colleagues described the deceased as soft-spoken but with strong leadership skills and a key pillar in setting up the UN-HABITAT activities in Burundi, his home country.
“He strongly believed that the infrastructure and housing problems in Burundi could be solved as long as the government, the private sector and UN-HABITAT worked together towards achieving this goal. As a prolific civil engineer he was instrumental in establishing the Burundi Urban Profiling, the Burundi National Housing and Urban Policy among other key activities in the sector,” said the Director of UN-HABITAT’s Regional Office for Africa and Arab States, Mr. Alioune Badiane.
Mr. Badiane who gave eulogy on behalf of the Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, further extolled Mr. Muhirwe’s diplomacy skills and the excellent manner he had cultivated relationships with all staff.
“His most prominent role was to direct the UN-HABITAT activities in Burundi and he played a positive role in building relationship with the government and donors in the country,” said Mr. Badiane.
Prior to joining UN-HABITAT, Mr. Muhirwe was worked for Burundi government as a Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Works. He joined UN-HABITAT in July 2004 as the Habitat Programme Manager.
Colleagues from both the headquarters in Nairobi and the field offices expressed shock and disbelief on receiving the sad news of Mr. Muhirwe’s death. Mr. Robert Goodwin who worked with the late in Burundi said he was always impressed by the deceased’s diplomatic and considerate approach to issues and his total commitment to UN-HABITAT.
His fellow Habitat Programme Manager in Nigeria Mr. Johnson Falade said the news came as a rude shock. “Our colleague, Francois, until his death was such a lovely gentle spoken and hardworking fellow who will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to his family his lovely wife and daughter”, he said. Mr. Mansour Tall, the Habitat Programme Manager in Senegal described the late as a model of tolerance and a paragon of peace saying that a regulator is gone. “We really lost a good man, a true link between the programme managers and colleagues at the headquarters”, he added.