UN launches program to boost urban renewal in Kenya

2018-07-26 10:59:00 | From:Xinhua

The UN on Wednesday launched a program to boost sustainable urbanization in Kenya amid challenges of pollution, crime and mushrooming informal settlements.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), said the strategy covering 2018-2021 will be critical to the realization of urban renewal in Kenya.

The Habitat Country Programme Document (HCPD 2018-2021) has also been aligned with the UN Development Assistance Framework for Kenya (UNDAF 2018-2022).

Sharif, who is also the UN under-secretary-general, said the program will provide guidance on improved land management and sustainable planned settlements as well as improved access to quality urban basic services and infrastructure.

Sharif said UN-Habitat's knowledge and expertise in policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative actions will assist Kenya to immensely achieve its Big Four Agenda on affordable housing, manufacturing, universal healthcare and food security.

James Macharia, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, said the UN document aims at galvanizing state and non-state actors towards sustainable human settlements and effective national urban development and planning.

He noted said the country program document is timely given the exponential population growth and the rapid rate of urbanization being experienced in Kenya.

He noted that Kenya's population was estimated to be about 47 million last year, with projections that it will reach 65 million by the year 2030.

The CS added that the country's urban population was estimated to be 34 percent in 2017 and is projected to be about 54 percent in 2030.

"This population growth and emerging urbanization trends have constrained existing services and infrastructural development, particularly in our cities and towns, causing acute shortage of decent housing, resulting in the growth of slums and informal settlements," Macharia said.

As part of plans to roll out the affordable housing scheme, Kenya has already developed a housing delivery model and a financing framework that envisages private-sector financial and resource mobilization in the delivery of housing projects, with the government providing the requisite incentives and facilitation.

In addition, the country's national treasury, the World Bank and other stakeholders intend to operationalize the Kenya Mortgage Refinancing Mortgage Company (KMRC) to provide medium and long-term liquidity to mortgage lenders.

Macharia added that the National Housing Development Fund (NHDF) will provide a housing aggregator and off-take, with an online housing demand portal to mitigate developer market risk and boost the supply of housing units in scale while lowering developer financing cost.

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