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Kenya to host the first UN-Habitat Assembly meeting 

Kenya  will  host the first ever United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Assembly in the country which  will take place in the next 10 days at the United Nations Complex in Gigiri.

The  United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the UN agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development.

The  UN-Habitat  Assembly replaces the Governing Council of the UN-Habitat  which was a resolution passed by the General Assembly  of  the United Nations in December 2018.

The  Assembly  now will be the highest decision making UN body spearheading sustainable urbanisation and human settlement.

Speaking  on  Thursday  during a press briefing prior to the event, Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban  Development  Cabinet  Secretary (CS),  James  Macharia  said that, the Assembly will provide a significant opportunity to form  strategic alliances to advance the sustainable urbanisation and human settlement agenda.

“Housing is one of the Big 4 Agenda; this Assembly comes at a time when Kenya has embarked on a journey to provide  affordable and good housing, pushing our national agenda to the global level,” Macharia said.

The  world  currently is experiencing rapid urban urbanisation which has resulted in an acute shortage of affordable and  decent housing leading to a proliferation of slums and informal settlements.

During  the  meeting, the CS noted that all the 193 UN member states are expected to make decisions and adopt resolutions  that will frame the global urbanisation agenda to develop norms and standards related to sustainable urbanisation and  human settlements.

“The  assembly will come up with a Nairobi Declaration on the theme of the Assembly with concrete commitments to action,”  he noted.

Macharia explainedthat during the first session, the Assembly is expected to establish the Executive Board of UN-Habitat  and elect its members, and also review and approve the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

The  Transport  CS  affirmed that the government of Kenya plans to build 500,000 affordable homes over the next five years  under the Affordable Housing Programme.

The  UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd  Sharif  said Kenya’s urban population is growing at 5 percent a year  with  a third of the population currently in towns and cities but added the trend will reach half by 2050.

Because  of  this, Maimunah noted that this situation will see many of them not able to access clean water or sanitation or even public transport.

“We  are  working closely with the government of Kenya and with Our Habitat Country Programme to demonstrate how sustainable urbanization will support the achievement of the Kenyan Vision 2030 and Kenya Constitution 2010 aspirations,” Maimunah  said.

Maimunah pointed  out  six  focus areas namely improvement of land management and sustainably planned human settlements, improved access to quality urban basic upgrading and prevention, innovation in improving urban economy and finance, improved urban governance and resilience and improved capacity development, monitoring and evaluation and sensitization.

Over 2000 participants are expected to attend the meeting that will take place from 27th to 31st May under the theme “Innovation for a better quality of life in cities and communities”.

By  Melodious  Kemunto/Rahab  Wanjiru/Wangari  Ndirangu

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