ROAS Housing and Slum Upgrading

UN-Habitat puts the right to adequate housing at the centre of the New Urban Agenda. An increasing number of people worldwide is without adequate housing. Still now the world is recovering from a dysfunctional housing market that treated housing and land purely as a commodity, and caused one of the most severe economic crises in recent history. UN-Habitat ROAS concentrates its efforts on working with its partners on holistic urban strategies that puts human rights and people’s needs at the forefront. Most Arab countries have made significant progress in developing initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing through targeted programmes. However, particular countries still fail to meet the increased housing demand effectively. Conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and Syria have led to waves of displacement, resulting in massive population growth in some municipalities (fourfold in some areas of Syria) as people move to where they feel safer. These demographic shocks are accompanied by rising rent prices and overcrowding with three or four families per apartment to save rental cost. As rents continue to rise, more and more secondary displacement takes place, resulting in some families residing in incomplete or non-residential buildings. The significant shortage of affordable housing in most countries of the Arab region has resulted in continuous informal growth especially on the urban periphery, in undesirable and hazardous locations or in existing older, substandard buildings.

UN-Habitat has provided an analysis of national housing markets through implementing the Housing Profile tool in Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine. These have translated into housing policies which in turn identified reforms that are needed to enable a well-functioning housing market to achieve the right to adequate housing for all. UN-Habitat is also active in slum upgrading and has implemented a number of pilot initiatives, for example in Kurani Ainkawa, Erbil, which benefited 2000 families. Learning from such initiatives UN-Habitat has supported citywide and national slum upgrading programmes in Morocco, Iraq and Egypt, and plays now a significant role in addressing housing and shelter needs in crisis situations.

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