President Uhuru Kenyatta today called for the strengthening of the UN-Habitat so that it can effectively pursue the mandate to support sustainable urbanisation.
He said the governance processes and financial resources of UN-Habitat need to be improved so that it can play a more active and visible role during a time the African continent is experiencing fast-paced urbanisation.
“UN-Habitat must also be empowered and encouraged to comprehensively engage the private sector whose expectations and investments are doing more to shape the urban space than any other sector, “said the President.
The President was speaking this morning when he official opened the 25th Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat at the UN headquarters Gigiri.
As part of its commitment to support the United Nations, President Kenyatta announced that Kenya will donate 1 million US Dollars to support the UN-Habitat Secretariat.
Part of the donation will be used to organise the upcoming Habitat 111 conference while the other part will be used to support the work programme of the UN-Habitat.
President Kenyatta said a more effective, visible and resourced UN-Habitat will help many nations succeed in harnessing the positive impacts of urbanisation.
He said rural and urban areas complement each other and the days when urban areas were considered only a refuge from rural poverty are long gone.
He said poverty reduction in rural areas is now mostly driven by urban-rural economic linkages.
“The urban demand for rural products is the largest driver of rural prosperity growth, which is added to by the remittances from urban dwellers to their rural relatives,” he added.
He said the transformation of the governance structure of Kenya was informed by the realisation that rural and urban areas cannot prosper in isolation.
He said the devolved system of governance has allowed Kenyans to participate in shaping their development priorities at the local level.
The result, he said, will be increased prosperity in both urban and rural areas, increased equity through participation, and improved health and dignity from the broadened delivery of basic services.
The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr Joan Clos said the whole world was watching and learning from Kenya’s devolved system of governance.
“Everyone in the world is looking at how devolution is performing in Kenya,” he said.
Other UN officials who spoke during the opening session included the Executive Director of UNEP Achim Steiner, the Director General of United Nations Office in Nairobi, Ms Sahle Work Zewde and president of UN-Habitat’s governing council, Ibrahim Thiaw.