The UN-Habitat has pledged to support the country’s urbanisation policy, one of the government’s priority sectors, a move aimed at both sustainable urbanisation and economic development.
Dr. Joan Clos, the Executive Director of UN Habitat said this yesterday during a press conference in Kigali.
Clos, who commended Rwanda’s process in the implementation of the urbanisation programme, said his organisation will offer support in the implementation of its cities master plans.
Currently, 18 districts have master plans in place, while others are expected to unveil theirs before the end of this year.
“Kigali and other intermediate cities have a huge potential for urban development and job creation through the urbanisation process,” Clos, who is also the UN Under-Secretary General, noted.
He commended the government for establishing the Rwanda Housing Authority and capacity building in urban planning, observing that this would help tackle urbanisation challenges.
Clos noted that UN-Habitat is in talks with the government to assist in the development of various projects and the implementation of master plans in public spaces, basic infrastructure and the housing sector.
“Urbanisation means having a big population in a small organised space; this requires attention to sustainability, not just in terms of climate change and disasters, but also in economic sustainability.”
“We are looking at how to cooperate to keep urbanisation in a way that it generates both economic and urban value that sustains the circle of improved urbanisation,” he explained.
The UN has been helping in the implementation of the Kigali master plan besides helping to resettle Rwandans repatriated from Tanzania.
They are also involved in resettling other families in the country, especially in Karongi and Rubavu districts.
“We are happy with these projects and we hope that in future, we can develop new projects of cooperation for sustainable urban development. Urbanisation is a huge contributor of development and all developed countries that have done so did it through urbanisation,” he observed.
Clos also commended the Kigali city master plan, its implementation process, road infrastructure development and the city’s hygiene.
In 2010, Rwanda was warded the prestigious UN Habitat Scroll of Honour Award, the highest human settlement accolade. It was the first African city to receive such an accolade.
The Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva, noted that capacity building, especially in terms of expertise, is required in the urbanisation process.
“We are faced with some problems of quality construction because we are not able to properly regulate various projects, especially in the housing and utility sectors. We expect this partnership to help us more in building sustainable plans that have quality standards and norms,” observed Nsengiyumva.
“Without capacity building of the ministries involved in the urbanisation programme, we will face a huge problem in the implementation process. We consider UN Habitat as an important partner because they have the required expertise.
It’s time to move from master plans to implementation of physical plans,” he noted.