CONGO: Government responds to population growth concerns

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Congolese officials have outlined plans to deal with overcrowding in urban areas after a UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report said the capital's population could double in the next 14 years.

Minister of Justice Aime Emmanuel Yocka said: “This obliges us to take up many challenges to enable the people of our cities to live and work in better conditions. This growth is accompanied by a degradation of the environment, which inhibits the development of cities.”

According to UNFPA, Congo’s urban population growth has been estimated at 6 percent a year. “We will without doubt have to boost our initiatives at a national level to clean up the environment, provide drinking water to every person in Congo, increase access to health centres, create jobs to reduce poverty and improve education standards,” said Yocka.

Jean-François Apoko, a counsellor in the city council’s urban planning department, said it would develop new policies based on the report’s recommendations. “If there had been better planning, we could have anticipated the environmental catastrophes experienced by around 3,600 residents of the Talangai urban district of Brazzaville. Erosion has affected several areas, while flooding has engulfed others,” he said.

Apoko suggested that the city should restart a joint initiative with the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, to improve conditions for children in Brazzaville, as well as several other national initiatives to protect women and girls from urban violence and encourage more micro-credit projects.

The UNFPA report, Releasing the potential of urban growth, includes the youth-focused supplement, Growing up in urban areas. It was launched in London on 27 June by UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.

Source: IRIN