The executive branch of the European Union, the European Commission, has signed an agreement with UN-HABITAT that will see 90 municipalities in 30 countries improving living conditions in a sustainable way.
The agreement signed at the beginning of February, marks the first time that the agency has received a grant from the EuropeAid Co-operation Office and its ACP fund benefiting the African Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.
The partnership, between the ACP Secretariat, the EC and UN-HABITAT, aims at managing rapid urbanization challenges and contributing more efficiently to urban poverty reduction. In March this year, UN-HABITAT will launch activities and a regional dialogue on urban development policies.
The Intra-ACP funds as part of the European Development Fund will enable 18 countries to assess their major urban challenges and produce urban sector profiles. In the meantime, 12 countries that have already completed the profiling will move on with the second phase, preparing feasibility studies for integrated slum upgrading pilots.
Through the urban sector profiling activity, inhabitants from 58 cities will assess their most urgent needs to reduce urban poverty and improve their living conditions. The work covers cities in 11 countries in Africa, four Caribbean small island nations, and three Pacific small island nations.
In city consultations urban decision-makers, civil societies, donors and academics will identify priority needs or capacity gaps by looking at how existing institutions at local, national and regional levels respond to urban issues. During these consultations, participants also learn how to apply innovative participatory assessment tools and to commonly agree on priority projects to achieve positive change in their cities, country and region. In the end, the profiles serve as agreements between urban decision-makers and citizens on what has to be improved in their cities.
The second phase creates a forum to exchange urban upgrading experiences and best practices in regional policy and capacity building seminars. Participants will gain extra knowledge on modern, innovative tools and methods covering good local governance, environmental planning and management, human resource and local economic development approaches. Trainees back in their countries will replicate seminars and share new urban planning and management approaches with urban stakeholders at national and city level.
In addition, slum residents in selected city areas will be directly addressed through socio-economic and physical surveys, as part of the feasibility studies of concrete slum upgrading projects in their neighbourhoods.
The agreement between the EC and UN-HABITAT marks a new step in the implementation of Millennium Development Goals, Target 11 contributing to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
The programme will be implemented by the Regional and Technical Cooperation Division of UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with the Shelter Branch and the Training and Capacity Building Branch of the agency.