Nay Pyi Taw, 25 November 2014 - The president of Myanmar Mr. U Thein Sein recently emphasized urban development and housing as his government’s priority development agenda.

Addressing the National Workshop on Urban and Housing Policy and Planning the president told the participants that the event should lead to development of national policy, laws, rules and regulations covering the entire nation for the development of urban and housing sector that can effectively contribute to socio-economic development of the people. “It is necessary to implement affordable housing initiatives in which houses can be purchased and in installments or with mortgages by poor, disabled, retiree and low income general public,” he said.The high level national workshop was attended by the vice president Mr. U Nyan Tun, ministers, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers of Regions and States, Mayors, more than 300 senior government officials, representatives from development partners and the private sector organization. The one day workshop focused on two sub-themes: Urban Development Policy and Basic Infrastructure Development, and Housing Policy and Development Work.The workshop provided a high level platform for discussions on issues around urban planning and housing development. The workshop discussed key challenges emerging due to rapid urbanization as a result of country’s political and socio-economic transformation.

Importance of handling rapid Urbanization highlightedIn his speech, the UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Mr. Bijay Karmacharya, highlighted the importance of handling rapid urbanization in a timely manner and to capitalize the economic potential of urbanization for economic growth and social development. He emphasized the need of National Urban Policy at the national level supported by a three pronged approach of urban design, urban legislation and financing at the city or local level. It was noted that a well-coordinated approach between the Union and the local level through National Urban Policy, systematic capacity enhancement and interventions at city level supported by proper planning, finances and legislation will lead to positive multiple outcomes of urbanization. UN-Habitat video clips “The city we need” and “Paper City” dubbed in Myanmar language were screened during the opening ceremony. The conference recognized the usefulness of conducting sector specific studies, setting up of national level working committees and continued participatory dialogue among key stakeholders at multiple levels of governance along with communities, civil society and private sector to make policies realistic and implementable. Furthermore the decision makers of the government noted UN-Habitat as a key player in bringing global experience and expertise to the process of policy formulation related to urban development and housing.

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