H.E. Mr. Henrique Cossa
Vice-Minister of Public Works and Housing
of the Republic of Mozambique

Before the

25thSpecial Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)

New York, June 8, 2001


 Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to congratulate you upon your election to preside over this 25th Special Session of the United Nations in Habitat. I am confident that under your skilful guidance and outstanding experience our deliberations will be crowned with success.

Mr. President,

Despite the substantial progress made since Istanbul, much remains to be done. Nowadays, millions of people in developing countries still live in abject poverty without adequate shelter and basic services. Moreover, increasing flow of people into urban areas dramatically increases urban poverty with major impact on women and children, bringing altogether social conflicts and environmental degradation. The challenge for the sustainable human settlements development is still far from being fully addressed, and we believe that this is the proper time for us to strengthen our commitment to the Habitat Agenda. The overall goal at this Special Session should be to ensure their further and effective implementation.

The world leaders, who assembled in the Millennium Summit, have identified the reduction of poverty as the overriding challenge the humanity is faced with. With regard to the provision of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements they resolved to achieve by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. Mozambique fully endorses these commitments and calls upon the international community to spare no efforts to ensure its operationalization.

In following up the recommendations of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, the Government of Mozambique adopted a National Plan of Action on Human Settlements. It was under the guidance of this Plan, that we focused our actions on different relevant areas:

1. Poverty Alleviation

The Government approved a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for the period 2001- 2005. The actions and activities foreseen in the paper include aspects of economic, social, political and cultural character tailored in programmes and project at local, provincial and national levels. The target is to maintain an average growth of 8%, which will reduce the poverty head count to bellow 50% by the end of this decade.

2. Adequate shelter for all

The Government has established a National Housing Fund to provide land and financial credit to housing construction and rehabilitation for low income people and young couples.

On the other hand, the Government has transferred about 70% of its real estate stock to Mozambicans at highly subsidised prices, and the income generated from the sales has been allocated to the National Housing Fund.

3. Human settlement development

A National Council for Sustainable Development, which comprises government institutions, civil society, and private sector, has been established within the country, with a view to coordinating the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

Similarly, a National Programme for Environment Management is being implemented, with a view to controlling the environmental degradation and creating a local management capacity. The dissemination of educational programmes on environment and on the use of natural resources has also played a crucial role in the protection of the environment.

4. Decentralisation of local authorities

In 1997 there were established 33 local autarchies in 23 cities and 10 towns and in 1998 their representative organs were elected.

These local authorities play a crucial role in the urban and peri-urban planning and management. In this regard we have witnessed an improvement in the living conditions of the populations in the urban centres including a better provision of services, sanitation and clean water.

5. Gender Equality

In Mozambique, women have been involved in the promotion of sustainable human settlements and adequate shelter, by carrying out various projects and programmes of social and economic nature. They also play an important role in the sustainable use of natural resources, as well as in the preservation and management of the environment.

Women, particularly widows, single mothers, and those heading households benefit from a considerable share of the National Housing Fund for the construction or rehabilitation of their houses.

Mr. President,

Mozambique was affected by floods for the second year running - 2000 and 2001. The floods created a serious setback on the implementation of programmes, projects, and actions I referred above.

To avert this situation, we have fully directed our efforts towards the reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads and social infrastructure, promotion of income generation activities, and in the encouragement of populations to abandon areas of risk and fix themselves in more secure ones.

Allow me to seize this opportunity to thank the countries and the international community in general for having extended their support to minimise the suffering of the Mozambican people in those tragic moments of our history, as well as for helping us in the post-floods reconstruction process.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to reaffirm my government's commitment to the goals of the Habitat Agenda and I hope that the outcome of this Special Session will guide all nations in their efforts aimed at achieving sustainable human settlements and adequate shelter for all.

I thank you.