STATEMENT

BY

HONOURABLE ALBERT H.N. SHABANGU
MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
OF THE KINGDOM OF SWAZILAND

TO

THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
FOR AN OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE HABITAT AGENDA [ISTANBUL+S]

NEW YORK
6 JUNE 2001


Mr. President
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Your Excellencies
Honourable Ministers
Executive Director of Habitat
Distinguished Delegates

On behalf of the delegation of the Kingdom of Swaziland, I am greatly honoured to address this twenty-fifth special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of United Nations Conference on Human Settlements.

Mr President,

I take this opportunity to reaffirm my country's commitment to the goals and principles of the Habitat Agenda.

To this end, Mr. President, allow me to reflect and share with this august assembly my country's accomplishments towards adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an increasingly urbanizing global village.

Mr. President,

His Majesty's government has put in place an enabling legislative and policy framework for achieving sustainable human settlements development. This has been followed by programmes and projects. To this end, the Kingdom of Swaziland in partnership with the World Bank, is currently undertaking the upgrading of informal human settlements in our two cities. This initiative is envisaged to benefit over 15 000 families. I am indeed happy to report that this project has not only improved the living conditions, but has also enhanced access to land and credit to the marginalized urban poor. Many aspects of this project were greatly inspired by the habitat agenda.

I am happy to report, Mr President, that in recognition of some innovative elements of the project, in July 2000 the project was one of the 18 projects presented with a social development award by the World Bank. Projects that receive this award are considered the best of the best, given that they are selected from a pool of over 380 projects funded by the World Bank already recognised for overall quality.

In addition to the above, the Swaziland National Housing Board, a parastatal under my ministry is presently providing over 1,000units for rental and 500 units for ownership to low and middle-income earners.

Mr. President,

All of the above has been achieved by working with our partners with whom we have formed strategic alliances. These partners are, but not limited to, the following: the affected communities, public utilities, local authorities, housing boards, NGO's, and the private sector.

On the issue of urban governance, my government has introduced democratic elections for local authorities. My government is committed to building capacity of local authorities. To this end, an increasingly vibrant national association of local authorities (SNALA) and local authorities association of managers (LAMAS) has been formed and has played an important role in influencing and advocating national policies and legislation. Although still very young, SNALA has also joined the African and International Union of Local Authorities.

Notwithstanding the achievements already mentioned, Swaziland faces a number of political, cultural and financial challenges. For example, one challenge we faced was dealing with the secure land tenure concept. Whilst the habitat concept is very clear on what it entails, in our country it touches on political and cultural issues that can only be approached with great diligence. However, through broad consultations, progress is being made. Another example is the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has resulted in a new phenomenon of households that are headed by orphaned children.

Mr. President,

A major challenge that we faced in implementing the Habitat Agenda was the lack of financial and technical resources from the people on the one hand and the government on the other. I believe this is a problem not only for Swaziland but most developing countries.

Finally, Mr President, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the support of our international partners. In this connection we sincerely express our appreciation to the following organisations, the UNDP, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Africa Capacity Building Fund, National Association of Local Authorities of Denmark, the African and International Union of Local Authorities. However, if we are to adequately fulfil the objectives, goals and aspirations of humankind more financial assistance remains critical. We can only win if we all work together as countries and nations.

In conclusion, Mr. President, allow me to emphasize the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland's commitment to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and my delegation's hope that this special session will fulfil the mandate it has been entrusted with.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, I thank you.