JIS News

Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), all over the world are gearing to celebrate World HABITAT Day on October 6, under the theme: ‘Harmonious Cities’.
The United Nations (UN), has designated the first Monday in October each year as World HABITAT Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of towns and cities and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of human living conditions.
Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has underscored Jamaica’s concern for the wellbeing of its citizens and the need to provide adequate shelter solutions for all.
“The urgency of dealing with affordable and appropriate shelter for Jamaicans, especially when one examines the proliferation of informal settlements, which have led to significant social problems and social dysfunction, comes to the fore on HABITAT Day,” Dr. Chang told JIS News in an interview.
He assured that “correcting this problem by providing affordable solutions and upgrading some of the informal settlements will be pursued with urgency.”
On HABITAT Day 2008, the world will focus on Luanda, the capital of Angola, from where the observance of the day will be led. The Luandan example is appropriate, according to the Minister, as the cities in Angola, which endured decades of civil war, are recovering. This, he said, demonstrates the ability of humans and their habitations to recover from extreme conditions with targeted interventions.
According to the UN, Angola is progressing with the establishment of harmonious cities through urban development, improved land and housing rights for the people, and poverty alleviation strategies. The Angolan Government is also taking steps to make basic social services available to all its citizens.
World HABITAT Day, this year, is being celebrated a month before the fourth session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China, from November 3 to 6. The Forum, the world’s largest and most important conference dealing with the management of the world’s growing towns and cities, will also see the launch of the United Nations-Habitat’s biennial publication, ‘The State of the World’s Cities.’
The UN chose the theme, ‘Harmonious Cities’, for the Forum and World HABITAT Day, to raise awareness about the problems of rapid urbanisation, its impact on the environment, the growth of slums, and the urbanisation of poverty, as more and more people teem into towns and cities looking for a better life.