World Habitat Day is an international day observed on the first Monday of October every year.
This year the World Habitat Day, themed ‘Mind the Gap. Leave No One and Place Behind’ will take place on 3rd October in Balikesir, Turkiye. The National Observance will
take place across the 47 counties. The focus will be the problem of growing inequality and challenges in cities and human settlements. Kenya as the host Country of UN- Habitat will join the world in marking this great day.
World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 in Nairobi, Kenya, with the theme ‘Shelter is my right’. Thus, Urban October begins with World Habitat Day at the start of the month and ends with World Cities Day on 31 October. Activities to mark Urban October take place around the world on these specific days and throughout the month. Different cities around the world host the global observances of World Habitat Day and World Cities Day each year.
The theme for this year aims to draw attention to the growing inequalities and vulnerabilities that have been intensified by the triple ‘C’ crises which are COVID-19, Climate change and Conflict.
The aim is to address the problems of growing inequality, including challenges in cities and human settlements that affect both the developed and developing countries. Inequalities in cities and urban areas manifest inter alia, spatially (public services, infrastructure), socially (health, welfare), economically (employment, household income) and environmentally (access to clean environment, sanitation and public spaces).
The Agenda for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 is to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The pandemic and recent conflicts have reversed years of progress made in the fight against poverty, resulting in the emergence of newly poor people. Cities and local governments play a front-line role in responding to crises and emergencies as well as in planning for an inclusive, resilient and green future.
The Government of Kenya has initiated various policies, programmes and interventions in urban areas with the aim of improving and balancing development while reducing inequalities.
The Permanent Mission of Kenya to UN-Habitat, has previously joined other partners in marking this very important occasion, in Naivasha in 2021 and the global observance in Nakuru in 2020. This events brought to the fore front the important role of cities in ensuring access to environmentally sustainable cities for all.
In addition, urban economies promote energy efficiency, mitigate environmental and climate change impacts and invest in green technologies. Most of the urban population are self-employed and in the informal sector.
At the Regional Level, Africa is recognized as the least urbanized, yet the fastest urbanizing continent in the world with an urban population of 472 million people and is
expected to double over the next 20 years.
As we celebrate Urban October, we join with all like-minded global partners in the endeavor of building climate resilience for the urban poor. This also includes putting interventions to draw positive actions, with the purpose of implementing SDG 11 for future generations.
Provision of Affordable Housing, mitigating the effects drought among the vulnerable and building back better from the Covid-19 pandemic remain key Government priority areas. In his inaugural address during the general debate of the 77th session of UNGA, H.E President William Ruto emphasized on the interlocking challenges of conflicts, triple planetary crises and the global food crisis and how they have impeded the momentum and obstructed the focus on achieving fundamental transformations towards sustainable development. These he noted have left the globe food insecure. He also reiterated Kenya’s commitment to the development and implementation of frameworks for climate change mitigation.
The president in his statement underscored the importance of prioritizing solid waste management specifically emphasizing his administration’s commitment to work closely with other nations to pursue legally binding instruments aimed at bringing an end to plastic pollution. Kenya took a bold step in banning single-use plastic in protected natural areas in 2017.
H.E President William Ruto also re-affirmed the indispensable role of United Nations Agencies in the promotion of environmental sustainability globally, as well as in helping socially and environmentally sound sustainable cities. Kenya is Host to UN-Habitat and UN-Environment.
Figure 1. H.E President William Ruto addressing the 77th session of UNGA
Figure 2. The Government of Kenya's 'Kazi mtaani' initiative involving youth in buildng back better post Covid.
Figure 3 and 4 . Ambassador Jean Kimani, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to UN-Habitat leading at a tree planting event organized by the Kenya Mission to UN-Habitat at Lari Uplands forest. Also participating are members of staff of the Mission, Kenya Forest Service, members of the Diplomatic Corps resident in Nairobi and the local area community members.
Figure 5. Launch of 228 units by the Government of Kenya constructed at Ngara under the G.O.K Affordable housing Programme.