From slums to safe, suitable houses

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pretoria – A housing conference, currently taking place, is looking at slum upgrading and prevention, taking lessons from various projects and programmes, including the UN-Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme.

Speaking at the two-day Habitat III Thematic Conference on Informal Settlements, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the South African government has emphasised informal settlements upgrading and wherever possible in-situ, as a way to ensure they improve people’s lives where they live.

“We have created a National Upgrading Support Programme to assist provincial and local government where they may lack the capacity to implement the informal settlements upgrading programme.

“We have also established the Housing Development Agency, whose primary responsibility is to procure state, private and communal land and buildings for use in the development of human settlements and release land for the development of human settlements,” Minister Sisulu said on Thursday.

In developing the country’s policies, the Minister said the country has learnt from both national and international experiences.

“Working with UN Habitat has been an extremely enriching experience. Our policies continue to be improved and adjusted to meet the locally relevant needs.”

The Minister said government remains committed to the development of sustainable human settlements.

“We moved from a previous policy, based on housing to a new policy which we, in the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (Amchud) endorsed as a policy framework for developing countries and now we talk about sustainable, integrated human settlements,” said Minister Sisulu.

To date, government has built and created housing opportunities for 4.3 million people, approximately 20 million beneficiaries. However, the Minister acknowledged that many challenges still remain.

The conference, which is in preparation for Habitat III to take place in Ecuador, in October 2016, is held under the theme “From slums to integrated safe, resilient and suitable human settlement”.  

During the thematic conference, delegates from governments and civil society across the globe are expected to come up with an agreed framework and global action plan to inform the New Urban Agenda to be adopted at Habitat III in Ecuador.

Habitat III Secretary-General Dr Juan Clos said the number of slums around the world continues to grow 10% annually.

“More people have arrived to the slums than the number of people who moved out from slums. After the year 2000, the slums population of the world has increased and we now have nearly one million people living in slums. The rate of diminishing the slums is not enough in order to diminish the stock of people living in slums,” said Dr Clos.

According to Dr Clos, the proportion vision of slum dwelling is most acute in Africa at an average of 61.7% population followed by Asia at 30%. –