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Rwanda: from Emergency Response to Sustainable Urbanisation
Kigali, 5 March 2015 – A delegation from the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to UN-Habitat joined by the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat recently visited Rwanda to learn about the work UN-Habitat has been doing since 1994.
Representatives from 20 member states from Latin and North America, Europa, Africa and Asia spoke with national and local leaders and visited UN-Habitat’s projects to see first-hand how the agency is supporting the government to achieve sustainable urbanisation by strengthening capacity, developing policies and setting examples through concrete projects related to human settlements.
In the city of Rubavu, for example, UN-Habitat supported the resettlement from a high risk zone. Through this project safety increased, a new urban lay-out was developed and the mountain now becomes a tourist attraction, giving an economic impulse to the city.
Cities of the future
During the visit, Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, lauded the achievements in Rwanda. “A clear vision that recognises urbanisation as an opportunity for sustainable development is needed to create the cities we need for the future.”
Leaders from the district of Rubavu presented a strategy and physical plan to extend their city to support rapid socio-economic growth. The plan was developed by the district, Rwanda Housing Authority and UN-Habitat after training technicians and local leaders.
“UN-Habitat has had an important impact in Rwanda by providing technical assistance and capacity building to develop local urban master plans,” said Christian Rwakunda, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Development of national urban policy
Rwanda is one of the five countries in the Achieving Sustainable Urban Development (ASUD) programme. Through the ‘three-legged approach’ three essential urban elements; urban legislation, urban design and urban finance are integrated into the development of national urbanisation policy and local spatial-economic development. The programme uses evidence-based knowledge to tackle urbanization as a complex process and builds on the potential of urbanization as a powerful transformative power when properly managed. Other ASUD countries are Colombia, Egypt, Mozambique and Philippines.
In Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, the delegation visited the Youth Centre where the government and UN-Habitat support youth employment through training. This success formula is now being copied to all districts and concrete plans are made to copy as well to surrounding countries, starting in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, received the CPR members and expressed the important role UN-Habitat plays in Rwanda’s urbanisation process. The three-day visit was concluded by a visit to the Genocide Memorial, where the participants paid their respect to the victims of the 1994 genocide.