By Jude Njoku (with Agency reports)
“If you set your targets high, it will spur you to act better than if they were low. If you are a high jumper each time they raise the bar you have to jump higher to get over it. It is a challenge that motivates you to perform better”.
That was how Nigeria’s Minister of Housing & Urban Development, Ms Amal Pepple sentimentally captured the need to stem the growth of slums. She made the remark in Morocco as Nigeria joined other countries to adopt the Rabat Declaration on Making Slums History.
The declaration was unanimously adopted by country delegations at the closing of the international conference which ended in Rabat, Morocco last week. The ambitious target is to halve the number of slum dwellers by 2020.
The declaration, according a release by UN-Habitat, reaffirmed the irreversibility of urbanization and its positive impact in advancing human development and poverty reduction. It recognizes the need to promote inclusive slum upgrading and prevention strategies that go beyond physical and environmental improvements and ensure that slums are fully integrated into the political, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of cities with a view to reducing urban poverty and inequality.
UN-Habitat noted that through the declaration signatories committed themselves to 10 key actions. These included: formulating, implementing and promoting inclusive urban policies, legislation, and national housing strategies; increasing financial and human resources for slum upgrading and prevention; and strengthening national entities such as urban forums or habitat committees to facilitate multi-sectoral dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders in preparation for the Habitat III Conference and the new Global Housing Strategy.
The declaration was the culmination of three-days of intensive debates, discussions and negotiations. During the plenary sessions and workshops officials shared experiences with slum upgrading over the past two decades and sought to devise a strategy for revisiting the slum target of the Millennium Development Goals.
The conference closed with the Moroccan Minister of Housing and Urban planning M. Mohammed Nabil Benabdellah expressing gratitude to UN-Habitat for its pivotal role in convening this global conference.