Douala, Cameroon, 5 October 2020 - Douala city hosted a lively World Habitat Day 2020 event with the presentation of several awards recognizing developers and city cleanliness and a virtual speech at the Global Observance ceremony from Surabaya, Indonesia.
Under the patronage of the Prime Minister represented by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Célestine Ketcha-Courtès, the meeting brought together cabinet ministers, representatives of ShelterAfrique, UN agencies, the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Minister of Housing and Infrastructures of Burundi, UN-Habitat’s senior officials and some 500 other participants both online and physically present.
The celebrations presented an opportunity to recognize the winners and participants in the inaugural Real Estate Awards and the Clean City Competition.
The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, in a video message, encouraged participants to continue the enthusiastic work of the Clean Cities Campaign.
"I personally followed this mobilization for cleaner environment online through the WhatsApp group set up by the Minister last year. On behalf of UN-Habitat, I thank the people and mayors who decided to take this opportunity to improve their living condition and children’s well-being," she said.
Speaking from Addis Ababa, the Executive Secretary of UNECA, Dr Vera Songwe, stressed the need to prioritize the housing sector and ensure it takes the aspirations of girls and young women into account.
“As SDG 11 implies, we must continue to work to ensure that we build enough houses so that we can ensure our girls and young women study well. You need efficient and effective housing to be able to produce the rest of the resources that society need,” she said.
The African Union Commission, through the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Cessouma Minata Samata, sent a video message where she welcomed the celebration and the link with the African Union’s 2063 Vision.
“The African Union Commission welcomes the choice of the theme for this year's World Habitat Day, "Housing for All: A Better Urban Future". In line with that theme, we will make sure that the drafting of the African Union Model Law on Housing and Urban Development pays particular attention to the issue of the right to decent and affordable housing for all,” she said.
The final keynote speaker read a message from the Minister of Infrastructure, Equipment and Social Housing from the Republic of Burundi and head of the STC8 sub-committee on housing, Déogratias Nsanganiyumwami.
“The Government of Burundi will spare no effort to honour its commitments to the sustainable development of our country in particular, and the African continent in general,” he said. “In conclusion, allow me to send my thanks to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development of Cameroon for inviting me to participate in this celebration. My thanks also go to UN-Habitat and its Executive Director. To the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa for their efforts to organize the coordinated development and visibility of the Continent.”
The Minister linked up live to the Global Observance of World Habitat Day coming from Surabaya, Indonesia. In her speech, Ms Courtes highlighted that the Day has been widely celebrated by many African States with national celebrations in Senegal, Benin, Mozambique, Chad, Kenya, Comoros, Guinea, and Burundi.
“I cannot conclude my message without calling for the examination and the launch of a Global Action for Decent and Affordable Housing for all in Africa (GADAHA). The Government of Cameroon under the upcoming framework of collaboration with UN-Habitat and the Cameroon Real Estate Corporation is keen to facilitate this process. I would be delighted if the Government of Indonesia can be part of this process,” said Ms. Courtès.
This year’s celebrations introduced an innovative competition calling on young professionals and students to submit ideas for the "Resilient Urban Housing in the City of Douala" competition. This initiative will be replicated in the coming years in other cities in Cameroon to create a pool of realistic and bankable projects for local governments.