Millions of people living in urban slums throughout the world are set to benefit from the pro-poor housing fund set up by UN-Habitat and its partners, a senior UN official said on Friday.
"This is a landmark breakthrough; now we will overcome the delay in establishing credit systems for slum-dwellers and provide them with better housing," said Anna Tibaijuka, the executive director of UN-Habitat in Nairobi, as the 21st Session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council drew to a close.
Tibaijuka said the pro-poor housing project would be implemented on an experimental basis starting with Kenya.
"Different countries are set to benefit from this fund starting with Kenya but on an experimental basis first. [They will] then move on to Latin America and Asia," she added.
Kenya is the first beneficiary because major projects have been initiated by UN-Habitat there, like the Slum Upgrading Programme started together with the government. "We will maintain geographical balance and treat all the countries equally," said Tibaijuka.
The revolving pro-poor fund, proposed in Stockholm in 1972, has taken 36 years to reach fruition, said Tibaijuka.
The Council meets every two years to examine UN-Habitat’s work and relationships with its partners. It is composed of 58 member states. It is a high-level forum of governments at ministerial level, during which, policy guidelines and the organisation's budget are established.
It reached a consensus on most of the 10 resolutions under debate, said Kumari Selja, the newly-elected chair of the Governing Council and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Poverty, India.
Selja branded the pro-poor housing funding the key resolution, saying lack or poor planning in urban growth was the world’s biggest failure.
"The world has not planned for the poor and this has contributed greatly to the rapid growth and spread of slums," said Selja.