Fifty eight member states of the United Nations (UN) on Monday started a week-long meeting aimed at ensuring affordable housing amid the global financial crisis.
The states converged in Nairobi, Kenya under the UN-Habitat’s 22nd Governing Council which is held every two years, and this time round, attention will be focused on funding for shelter.
The UN-Habitat Executive Secretary, Anna Tibaijuka, underscored the problem as being the misuse of affordable housing finances by some institutions and people whose interests she said were far from the housing needs of the majority of the poor.
It is estimated that fifty percent of the world’s population is now living in urban areas with an increase from 1.5 billion in 1975 to 3.6 billion today, all resident in cities.
She announced a fresh strategy to tackle the deteriorating living conditions of the multiplying city populations around the world as a result of shrinking resources and climate change, by harnessing the energy of the youth.
Eighty youths have so far been trained on urban shelter and infrastructure development under the agency’s commitment to promote affordable housing finance systems in the next two years.
Tibaijuka called on the international community to take issues of affordable housing as a lasting solution to the causes of the global financial crisis.
“While the current financial crisis extends beyond the initial crisis of poorly-regulated housing finance systems, most experts agree that one of the most effective ways of stimulating economic recovery is public investment in housing and infrastructure,” she remarked.
Participants underscored the need to have cities and settlements well planned to prevent loss and destruction of lives and property, adding that cities need to take preventive measures and “plan to offset the worst”.
Cities, participants cited, are a driving force of economies whose productivity can be improved by improving water and air quality and reduction of traffic congestion.
Like the recently concluded East African Scientific Conference noted, officials pointed out that cities in the developing world that contribute a minimal share to the global gas emissions are the worst hit by impacts of climatic changes.