Rwanda has joined the rest of the world to mark the United Nations-Habitat Day which is annually celebrated every Monday of the first week of October.
A statement from the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Anna Tibaijuka, on the occasion of the World Habitat Day 2008 highlighted that the number of urban slum-dwellers worldwide has broken the 1 billion mark, calling it a historic turning point.
According to the UN-Habitat statement, this makes it clear that the urbanisation of poverty is arguably one of the biggest challenges facing development today.
In a national communiqué presented on Sunday by Eng. Albert Butare, the Minister of State in charge of Energy stated that slums must be transformed.
Presenting the communiqué on behalf of Linda Bihire the Minister of Infrastructure, Eng. Butare said that Millennium Development Goals include improving lives of 100 million of the world’s slum dwellers by the year 2020.
Eng. Butare reminded the public that in 2005, a third of city dwellers in the developing world were slum dwellers, whereas Sub-Saharan countries accounted for 60 percent of this group.
“The reason why this day is celebrated is to remind us of the challenges of habitation that affect our lives and join hands to get sustainable solutions. It is important therefore to respect rights of habitation for every inhabitant, and Rwandans specifically should think of how we can be involved in the development of our habitation in cities and towns,” the communiqué, which The New Times has seen, reads in part.
He said that Rwanda’s Vision 2020 aims at increasing habitation of city dwellers from 18 to 30 percent and increasing rural habitation to 70 percent that include almost 22 percent inhabitants in decent settlements (Imiduguddu).
In the Vision 2020, Rwanda targets having City Master Plans for 18 cities and increasing accessibility to safe water and electricity.
Theophile Ruberangeyo, Coordinator of sub-sector habitat and urbanism in the Ministry of Infrastructure, told The New Times that 80 percent of Kigali City dwellers live in unplanned places.
After the UN General Assembly meeting that convened in October 17, 1985 where member States decided to annually mark the UN-Habitation Day, it started in 1986. This year’s theme for UN-Habitat is: ‘Harmonious cities’.