Nairobi/Thika 3 July 2014—Leading a strong delegation on a visit to Kenya, the Governor of Fukuoka in Japan Hiroshi Ogawa pledged stronger cooperation between his prefecture and UN-Habitat as well as Kenya in general.

At a high level meeting with UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos and other agency top officials, Mr. Ogawa said UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific was becoming increasingly important in addressing the urbanization issue in the region. “With a view to that, I trust that our cooperation will continue even beyond the current agreement, hopefully in an expanded way,” he said.

Dr. Clos said that urbanization remained a great challenge in the region adding that the greatest battle to be won remained changing people’s mindset. “We need to change [people’s] mindset so that urbanization is not seen as a problem but as an engine or multiplier of development,” he said.

The session was also addressed by the Director of Regional Office for Africa Ms. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher and her counterpart for Asia and the Pacific Mr. Yoshinobu Fukasawa, as well as Japan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to UN-Habitat Mr. Takaaki Takezawa.

The delegation consisted of 35 people drawn from the Fukuoka Prefectural Assembly led by Mr. Kunio Kaji, the Fukuoka International Exchange Foundation led by its president Mr. Matsuhiko Shingu and the Cooperating Committee of UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (ROAP) led by the chairman Mr. Kenji Tsugami.

During the trip, Mr. Ogawa also visited Thika, just outside Nairobi, where he met his counterpart, the Governor of Kiambu County William Kabogo and promised to share some of the lessons learnt from his prefecture. “Fukuoka has a long history in addressing the problem of pollution as well as solid waste management and it is my intention to have this technology transferred to benefit the people of Kiambu and Kenya in general,” he said.

Mr. Kabogo was enthusiastic saying that he was looking forward to having the same technology promised by his Fukuoka counterpart employed to benefit the people in Kiambu. After the meeting, the team went to the proposed solid waste management treatment site.