Durban 3 November 2017 – Representatives from intergovernmental organizations, national and local governments, civil society organizations, practitioners, researchers and private sector converged in Durban last week for the Second Africa Forum for Urban Safety (AFUS) Learning Exchange to build further on the commitments made at the national, regional and global level to make the cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
The Second AFUS Learning Exchange comes after the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, and the adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA).
The event came hot on the heels of the commemoration of eThekwini Municipality Urban Week, which comprised the South African Cities Urban Conference on 30 October and World Cities Day on 31 October and the city of Durban endorsed as the permanent secretariat of the Global Network on Safer Cities, hosted from 1 to 3 November the Second Africa Forum for Urban Safety Learning Exchange on the topic of ‘Creating Safer Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda’.
“The implementation of the New Urban Agenda requires us to consolidate the existing knowledge on urban safety strategies and plans by creating appropriate platforms to learn, exchange and share,” Ms Zandile Gumede, the mayor of eThekwini Municipality said in her remarks, adding that it is important to build capabilities within the local actors to make measurable improvements on urban safety, making our cities safe especially for women, youth and children.
The conference marked and celebrated some of the changes in the way cities see their roles in addressing issues of crime and violence, with speakers hopeful that it would be a catalyst for the cities in Africa to make measurable improvements towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
Building on UN-Habitat Safer Cities approach, the conference aimed to shift the mind-set from safety as an issue solely related to the justice system and police to safety as a product of inclusive, multi-level and multi-sectorial governance.
‘Safety is a key concern in African governance. We constantly need to implement adequate planning strategies - by doing so, we’re creating sustainable living conditions for our communities and cities, and improving the quality of life for all, especially for girls, women, and the ones living in vulnerable situations,” South Africa’s the Deputy Minister of Human SettlementsMs Zou Kota-Fredericks concluded.
Addressing the conference, UN-Habitat’s Director of External Relations Division Ms Christine Musisi said that the African continent was facing many new challenges chief among which was the rapid and extensive urban growth, with many of the fastest growing cities witnessing an increase of the incidence and severity of various forms of crime, violence and insecurity. Underlying safety as a prerequisite for development and the need to address the root-causes of crime and violence through an integrated and multi-governance approach, Ms Musisi explained the importance of anchoring urban safety strategies within the National Urban Policies, while calling for better urban planning and management, regulations and legislative frameworks in which cities take actions for the inclusion and engagement of citizens, especially of the most vulnerable ones: youth, women and children. Further, Ms Musisi emphasized the need to see safety as a public good and to invest on urban safety and safety impact assessments prior any investments on urban renewal and infrastructure.
Ms Gumede has committed to the implementation of eThekwini Safety Audit, in partnership with civil society organizations, private sector and academia – a project meant to develop an urban safety monitoring framework to support all cities and local governments in Africa through AFUS.
‘We committed to the development and delivery of relevant and appropriate urban safety curriculum content in support of local governments and strategic partners. It is also important that we establish a special purpose mechanism to allow AFUS to mobilize resources to support the implementation of the AFUS Strategic Agenda 2015-2025,’ said Ms Gumede.
She further added that women play a meaningful and strategic role in driving this agenda. ‘It is for this reason that we further committed that the 2018 Learning Exchange will focus on women safety in African Cities and it should take place during the 16 Days of Activism against violence to women and children’ Ms Gumede concluded.
The Chairperson of AFUS Advisory Council, Dr Alioune Badiane applauded the continuous commitment, involvement and participation of the eThekwini Municipality towards creating safer cities for all.
‘We are now preparing for next Learning Exchange and the focus will be on the safety and security of women in Africa. The exchange will go deep into the challenges faced by women in ordinary situations and women in post conflict situation,” said Mr. Badiane.