Maputo 13 April 2016—UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, recently visited Mozambique to further strengthen the relations between agency and the Government plus key partners such as the European Union, the World Bank and sister United Nations agencies that are Delivering as One.
During her visit, Dr. Kacyira discussed the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanisation with the Ministers of State Administration and Public Functions Ms. Carmelita Namashulua; Public Works, Housing and Water Resources Mr. Carlos Martinho; Land, Environment and Rural Development Mr. Celso Ismael Correia and the Mayor of Maputo Mr. David Simango.
“The government of Mozambique recognises the important role played by UN-Habitat in reducing the risk of natural hazards in human settlements, and sees urban development as a key priority, where a people-centred approach is needed,” said Minister of Administration Ms. Namashula.
On his part, Mr. Correia requested UN-Habitat to support the preparation of a national plan for territorial development that can give better insight of existing socio-economic spatial dynamics, help protecting areas, prevent from building in high risk zones and better connect rural and urban areas. Furthermore, UN-Habitat was also asked to expand its support to build capacity in urban management at all levels of government.
Mr. Correia added: Distances in Mozambican cities are too long, cities are too wide spread. Challenges that we have is reduce the distances and lower the costs and strengthen the relation between rural and urban.”
In response, DR. Kacyira noted : Urbanization is a tool for socio-economic development. The current wide-spread cities in Mozambique are not sustainable. When focusing on extensions, the process should be people oriented.”
During a meeting with the First Lady, Ms. Isaura Nyusi, opportunities that urban areas offer to improve the living conditions especially for women and the youth were discussed. “I am pleased to learn about the different initiatives Mozambique is implementing to increase access to jobs and income generation activities for youth in cities,” Dr. Kacyira said.
The Deputy Executive Director also visited the city of Maputo to get a better understanding of how rapidly the city is expanding and appreciate the proximity between formal and informal settlements. In conclusion to her visit, the Deputy Executive Director met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ms. Nyeleti Mondlane.
She expressed her satisfaction regarding the government’s strategy to strengthen urban-rural linkages through territorial planning, create job opportunities for the youth and women and develop the capacities for urban management. Overall, Dr. Kacyira reiterated UN-Habitat’s commitment to support the accomplishment of these important goals for Mozambique.
UN-Habitat has been working in close collaboration with the government of Mozambique since 2002 in the fields of urban resilience, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, slum upgrading, local capacity building, awareness raising, policy support and housing, amongst others. Currently the UN-Habitat team consists of approximately twenty staff and consultants who are stationed in Nampula, Quelimane and Maputo.
Approximately a third of the Mozambique’s population lives in urban areas. Since the country is located downstream of nine international rivers and shows more than 2,400 km of coastline where many cities are located, it is vulnerable to natural hazards in particular floods, cyclones and drought. It is expected that the number of urban dwellers will grow from the current 8 million to 18 million by 2040. Mozambique is considered to be a strategic partner for UN-Habitat since it is one of the five countries where the Achieving Sustainable Urban Development (ASUD) initiative has been implemented.