[Dateline: 28 September 2009, Nairobi | Author: iSeek/UN-HABITAT ]
As part of the countdown to the World Habitat Day celebrations, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has announced the winners of the Scroll of Honour Award, as well as the movement of over 1,000 Nairobi residents out of a slum, and the upcoming publication of the Global Report on Human Settlements.
Since the adoption of a General Assembly resolution in the mid-1980s (A/RES/40/202 A), World Habitat Day is always observed on the first Monday of October and aims to encourage the world to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. It is also a reminder of the collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
This year’s theme is "Planning our urban future" in order to raise awareness of the need to improve urban planning to deal with new major challenges of the 21st century so that our cities can manage and reduce the impacts of climate disruption, the economic crisis and urban poverty around the world.
Each year, UN-HABITAT teams up with a major world city on World Habitat Day. This year, a celebration will be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Scroll of Honour
The awards, considered the most significant prize in the field of human settlements, will be presented during the global observances being held in Washington, D.C.
In keeping with tradition, this year’s winners of the Habitat Scroll of Honour come from diverse backgrounds and continents.
Awardees include a Canadian human settlement guru awarded posthumously for his work in advancing sustainable urbanization and a project in a small South African town that has changed the lives of the inhabitants for the better by improving access to healthcare, water and electricity.
New dwellings in Kibera
A partnership between the government of Kenya and UN-HABITAT, the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme, has resulted in the movement of 1,300 people from slum shacks to modern high-rise apartments.
“I never imagined that I would one day live in a house like this. Just imagine, my wife and I will no longer have to share one room with my children and now I will have running water and electricity,” enthused former slumdweller John Kiari.
Kenya’s Prime Minister who is also the area member of parliament, Raila Odinga, praised UN-HABITAT saying the agency had made what once appeared a distant dream a reality.
“This is an initial step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” said Mr. Odinga while helping some of the residents move their belongings.
Residents will be charged the equivalent of 20 US dollars a month for their new houses, an unheard of bargain in Nairobi where rents are usually exorbitant.
Kibera is situated five kilometers southwest of the city of Nairobi, within the city boundaries. It is the largest informal settlement in Sub- Saharan Africa and one of the most densely populated informal settlements in the world.
The prevailing conditions in Kibera, include a lack of basic urban services like water supply, sanitation, solid waste management as well as power and roads.
Planning Sustainable Cities: the Global Report on Human Settlements, will be released on World Habitat Day. The book reviews recent urban planning practices and approaches, discusses constraints and conflicts therein, and identifies innovative approaches that are more responsive to current challenges of urbanization.
It notes that traditional approaches to urban planning (particularly in developing countries) have largely failed to promote equitable, efficient and sustainable human settlements and to address 21st-century challenges, including rapid urbanization, shrinking cities and ageing, climate change and related disasters, urban sprawl and unplanned peri-urbanization, as well as urbanization of poverty and informality.