Fourth AMCHUD meeting opens in Kenya

The fourth African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) kicked off in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Under the theme, Territorial planning, basic services for all and the impacts and the impacts of climate change in Africa the conference brought together participants from all over the continent as well as those from partner institutions.

In his opening statement, the outgoing AMCHUD chair, Mr. Yacouba Diallo, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development of Mali said the theme was of concern to all member states and partners.

With 60 per cent of Africa's urban population living in slums, he said, countries had to find common solutions for positive change adding that the slum situation due to the urbanization of poverty led to environmental problems. He added that the AMCHUD IV session was an opportunity to debate the environment and climate change, analyze best practices and elaborate on solutions. Mr. Diallo challenged the participants to seek solutions to overcome environmental and climate change challenges.

Addressing the meeting, UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Dr. Aisa Kirabo said the conference had been influential in the seven years of its existence. 'The contributions made by Ministers of Housing and Urban Development has brought to fore critical policy issues in housing and also served to consolidate Africa's voice in global forums," the Deputy Executive Director said.

She hoped the recommendations coming out of AMCHUD IV would be actionable and implementable. She said urban planning constituted an important instrument of urban transformation which could not avoid taking climate change into account. The theme provided an opportunity to see how the African city was growing, the positive dimensions of urbanization and how to invest in African people. Citing the contribution of African cities in Rio+20 processes, she pledged UN-Habitat's continued support to AMCHUD in advancing the urban agenda.

Dr. Kirabo thanked Mali for hosting the third session, and cited South Africa's support for the AMCHUD process.

Kenya's Minister for Housing Mr. Soita Shitanda said basic services as defined in Paragraph 84 of the Habitat Agenda— water supply and sanitation, waste management, energy, transport and communications, education, health and public safety— contributed to human dignity, quality of life and sustainable livelihoods.

"It is for this reason, among others, that in the year 2009 member states adopted resolution Resolution 8 of the Twenty-Second Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat on the guidelines on access to basic services for all as a valuable instrument in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals," he said, adding that provision of basic services required heavy investments, especially if the poorest of the poor were to be served.

Mr. Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary-General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) also addressed the meeting and said it was important to lobby the African Union, the Regional Economic Commissions, and other relevant institutions so that the voice of local authorities is heeded when defining development, integration and cooperation in Africa.