UN-HABITAT’s experience shows that in most post-crisis situations, the sudden disruption of service provision and the destruction of critical infrastructure represent a major threat for the urban survivors. This is especially the case where critical infrastructure and services were sub-standard in the first place. A key area of work for the agency is ensuring prevention, protection and early recovery of basic service provision and critical infrastructure for water, sanitation, waste management and hygiene systems. This also includes immediate support for health provision, education, and governance systems. To achieve this, we prioritize the involvement of the survivors themselves. UN-HABITAT is a member of the UN Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), as well as the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Groups in Geneva.
With a vast global reach, UN-HABITAT runs more than 200 technical cooperation programmes and projects in about 72 countries. The countries include many of the poorest in the world like Afghanistan, Somalia, Haiti, and Nepal, just to cite four examples. Much of the work is aimed at strengthening the urban fabric, helping slum dwellers with better shelter and basic services such as water and sanitation. Most of the programmes are run by UN-HABITAT staff who are nationals of their own countries, proudly trying to improve their cities or to rebuild after disasters.
It is apt here to pay our own colleagues, these unsung heroes, special tribute. They include more than 1,000 employees helping rebuild Afghanistan, hundreds in Iraq, and other places of conflict who daily put their lives on the line to make their world better for their people, thus making our global village a safer place.
UN-HABITAT’s operational work around the world is coordinated from four regional offices. These are based in Fukuoka, Japan, covering the Asia-Pacific, Warsaw covering Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states, Nairobi for Africa and the Arab world, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The agency is working or has worked in Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burundi, the Caribbean, Central Asia, China, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Timor Leste and Vietnam. It has an estimated 130 international staff working with more than 2,300 national staff in crisis situations around the world. Helping governments, communities and local authorities recover from conflict or disasters, UN-HABITAT is working in dozens of countries around the world. In concert with other UN humanitarian bodies, UN-HABITAT’s new Strategic Policy on Human Settlements and Crisis enables it to provide expert services as part of a carefully coordinated humanitarian response.