Gaborone, 15 September 2016—The government of Botswana has reiterated its commitment to making the needs of slum dwellers a top priority. Towards this end, Botswana’s Ministry of Lands and Housing convened a national workshop to discuss the outcomes of city and national profiles, meant to highlight urban challenges and identify corresponding actions that prevent the formation of informal settlements as well address the needs of the existing ones.

While opening the workshop to validate the outcome of city and national urban profiles, the Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands and Housing, Mr. Bareng Malatsi acknowledged the outcome of the reports and highlighted they are “off to an excellent inception” , that will require coordinated and integrated efforts of all players to support Government implement the priority actions identified.

“We need to come up with policies that will help prevent slums and further utilize the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme ( PSUP) to lay the foundation for such interventions,” he further pointed out. While welcoming participants to the workshop, the Mayor of Gaborone, Thutlwe Kagiso noted that “the urban poor have a right to the city.” He also told participants that “My office remains open to continue supporting the PSUP process.”

The work was undertaken through the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, an initiative of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific secretariat, funded by the European Commission and implemented by UN-Habitat in partnership with Botswana’s Ministry for Lands and Housing. While welcoming the results of the Urban Profiles, Mr. Anders Pedersen, the Resident Representative for UNDP Botswana pointed out that “the United Nations system in Botswana remains committed to continue supporting the people of Botswana implement the Sustainable Development Goals including those that address the needs of the urban poor.

The reports being unveiled set stage for further collaboration.” The workshop brought together more than 80 participants including key actors and partners from national and local government, development partners, the European Union, UN agencies, and civil society and community representatives to discuss the outcome of the sectoral urban profiles for the local authorities of Gaborone, Francistown, Lobaste and one conducted at the national level.

Mr. Peter Moalafi, the Director, Ministry for Lands and Housing noted that the reports being validated were not an end to themselves. “My Ministry is coordinating action to ensure that the outcome of the urban profiles informs Botswana’s long-term vision to the year 2036, that is currently being drafted. The urban profiles recommend the upgrading of existing informal settlements, by ensuring that households have affordable access to water, sanitation amongst other basic services.

Also proposed is a policy to prevent the formation of informal settlements. “As the Ministry mandated to coordinate and deliver effective local governance, we will oversee the integration of recommendations in the local and district development plans,” noted Mrs. Masego Mooketsi, the Deputy Director, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The workshop also presented a platform for exchange, dialogue, in addition to concrete recommendations for future programming. The Informal Settlement Upgrading National Action Plan that paves way for the implementation of tangible initiatives highlighted in the urban profiles was unveiled.

“We are proposing an integrated and participatory response plan that will see actors closely work together to improve the living conditions of the urban poor,” said Ms. Eunice Mmono, the Chief Town Planner, Ministry of Lands and Housing. In February 2016 at national parliament, the Minister for Lands and Housing, Honourable Mr. Prince Maele announced that his Ministry budgeted for US$150,000 to respond to issues emerging from the urban profiling process.

The money tops up an additional US$50,000 set aside to match European Union funds availed. Discussions at the workshop also focused on the importance of recognising the increasing needs of informal settlement dwellers as well as integrating them into urban areas through recognition of their rights and improving their living conditions. “Through the PSUP process, an opportunity for the Homeless and Poor People’s Federation to engage with Francistown was found, and we are happy to have worked out a Memorandum of Understanding guiding our partnership going forward,” said Ms. Goitsemang Maano.

Participants also underscored the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, ensuring accountability and strengthening the role of civil society and community based organizations. While giving his closing remarks, Mr. Hermann Spitz the Head of Cooperation, European Union (EU) Delegation emphasized that “The future in now,” further emphasised that “partners need to stand up for slum dwellers through action.” He mentioned that the EU will also continue to support Botswana through a financing for development partnership framework. As he acknowledged the remarkable outcome of the reports being validated as well as priority actions scheduled for implementation.