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World Cities Day: UN-Habitat, government to upgrade slums in Nigeria

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says that the Federal Government is partnering with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to implement a Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) initiative in Nigeria.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN)

Fashola disclosed this on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at the commemoration of the 2017 “World Habitat Day” and “World Cities Day” by the Ministry with the themes: “Housing Policies: Affordable Homes” and “Innovative Governance, Open Cities” respectively.

While the World Habitat Day is observed on every October 2, the World Cities Day is celebrated on October 31.

Fashola noted that the ministry has been undertaking urban renewal and slum upgrading programmes as a key strategy to encourage housing delivery and improve living condition of the people.

“This initiative has been adopted by the UN agency as a sustainable way of addressing the salient issues and challenges of slum situation in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, we are fortunate to benefit from it.

He said that at the instance of the international agency, three cities, namely Karu in Nasarawa State, Ifako-Ijaye in Lagos state and Onitsha in Anambra state have been profiled.

He listed other states, which have further adopted the PSUP initiative and successfully profiled some of their cities as Kastina, Yobe, Rivers, Osun, Ondo, Kogi.

“Nigeria is at the second phase of the programme, which involves implementation of prioritised projects to alleviate slum conditions in profiled settlements,” he added.

He regretted that the housing deficit in Nigeria has continued to increase despite the implementation of various housing policies and programmes in the past.

According to the minister, urbanisation has forced millions of citizens, who cannot afford decent homes to live in slums, squatters’ settlements and marginal lands at the suburbs of cities.

He noted that the urbanisation coupled with dwindling resources to manage the cities posed daunting development challenges in Nigeria urban centres, adding that it has resulted to un-equitable distribution of development.

Fashola said part of the responsibilities of the ministry and its parastatals were to grow the housing and urban development centre harnessing its potentials for sustainable development.

He said necessary machinery has been put in place to start a housing revolution through the innovative nationwide National Housing Programme.

The minister noted that the programmes pilot implementation stage has already created opportunities for 653 contractors, 13,680 direct jobs and 41 indirect jobs.

“To complement these efforts, we have activated the roadmap for Nigeria’s Housing and Urban Development Sector and were in the process of producing a strategic National Physical Development Plan,” he added.

In an address, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing (2), Suleiman Zarma, said that this year’s event was unique because Nigeria was celebrating the World Cities Day for the first time since its inception in 2014 by UN.

Zarma noted that the commemoration afforded an opportunity to appraise and review efforts in improving shelter and living conditions of citizens.

He urged all stakeholders in the human settlements sector to work in partnership with the ministry to achieve sustainable development and provide affordable homes.

The UN Assembly on Dec. 17, 1985 adopted every first Monday of October annually as the World Habitat Day for a thorough reflection globally on the state of the towns and cities and basic rights to adequate shelter.

The United Nations General Assembly designated October 31 as World Cities Day, by its resolution 68/239. The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanisation, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanisation, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.

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