As the UN Habitat Assembly gathers in Nairobi, there is need for renewed commitment to guarantee the right to adequate housing for all”, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southern Africa Tigere Chagutah said;
”The housing challenge is not just the lack of physical houses in urban areas. It is also about having decent affordable housing so that people living in all income brackets can have access to safe and adequate housing.
Amnesty International therefore calls on the assembly to urge governments to put in place time bound strategies that will explore all options including in-situ upgrading of informal settlements so as to achieve adequate housing for all and leave no one behind. As the percentage of the global population living in urban areas grows, governments must take urgent steps to ensure that housing and sanitation infrastructure in towns and cities is adequately equipped.
“Delegates meeting in Nairobi must renew collaborative efforts for the realization of the right to housing in urban areas where people living in poverty often have no option but to live in highly inadequate housing in informal settlements that often also poses a risk to their health. In addition, many are subjected to forced evictions and homelessness.
“Governments must commit to invest in social housing, slum upgrading, water and sanitation programmes in urban informal settlements as well as undertake urban renewal programmes that are environmentally sustainable, inclusive, transformative, productive and equitable.”
The second United Nations Habitat Assembly takes place from 5 to 9 June 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. It aims to address issues of sustainable urban development against a backdrop of pandemics, conflicts, climate change and economic uncertainty.
The World Bank estimates, 51% of Africa’s 500 urban population live in slums. With experts indicating that Africa’s urban population will increase to 57% by 2050, there is need for governments in Sub Saharan Africa to rethink their current housing strategies which continues to neglect informal settlements. According to the UN, the Covid 19 pandemic and its related aftershocks slowed the progress towards the realization of the right to housing. A slump in both domestic and foreign spending, reduced government investment in social programmes (including sanitation and social housing in urban informal settlements) as well as the increasing debt burden in Sub-Saharan Africa have compounded the situation and undermined advances towards public investment in housing.