MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT & HOUSING
OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ON THE OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL
OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OUTCOME
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II)
New York, NY
June 7, 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Zambian delegation, I wish to join other delegations who have spoken before me to congratulate you for being elected to Chair this important Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements. You can count on Zambia's active participation in the proceeding of this Special Session.
Today, I stand here on behalf of the people of Zambia to reaffirm Zambia's continued commitment to the HABITAT Agenda. We believe that the HABITAT Agenda provides a vision for improving the quality of life of people throughout the world.
Our experience over the past five years of implementing the HABITAT Agenda has revealed the comprehensiveness of the Agenda. Virtually any good urban development activity somehow finds a niche in it. It is this fact, Mr President, that makes the overall review of the implementation of the HABITAT Agenda an interesting experience. We all have tales to tell and lessons to learn; developed and developing countries alike.
Over the past five years we in Zambia have endeavoured to realise through various development programmes and projects the two themes of the HABITAT Agenda, namely, adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development. In the field of shelter, we have made significant strides by empowering the Zambian people with their own houses. We have formulated and are implementing an innovative housing policy that has enabled sitting tenants to purchase houses which hitherto were owned by Government, Local authorities and State owned companies. As a result, the status of many Zambians has been transformed, from tenant to landlord, virtually overnight.
Perhaps I should mention here that the Zambian housing policy was awarded
the 1996 "HABITAT Scroll of Honour", by the United Nations Centre
for Human Settlements (UNCHS).
Our housing policy has not neglected the poor in our society. In addition to empowering our people in the conventional or formal housing sector, we continuously empower our people living in unplanned settlements by providing them security of tenure for their properties, including title to land.
For almost 30 years now, we have given people living in recognized informal urban settlements, titles to the land and allowed them to gradually build their houses. In 1974, we enacted a law, the "Housing (Statutory and Improvement Areas) Act", that provides the legal basis of their security of tenure.
Our approach to adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development, has stressed the importance of community participation. Indeed, the "HABITAT Scroll of Honour" was awarded to Zambia in recognition of the participatory and innovative manner in which we formulated the housing policy.
Experience has shown us that community participation in shelter and human settlements development engenders civic responsibility at the local level and enhances a sense of ownership for public projects by the community.
We have also learnt that if participation is to be effective, participants themselves must be enabled to participate. Zambia, therefore, supports the enabling strategy that underpins the implementation of the HABITAT Agenda. When we talk about enablement we are referring to capacity building at all levels, ie local, national, regional and international levels.
In our assessment, the degree to which an activity in the HABITAT Agenda is effectively implemented is dependent on the enabling environment created for it. The implementation of the HABITAT Agenda is dependant on the enabling strategy created for it at all levels.
We are of the considered view that enablement is the entry point for
implementing the HABITAT Agenda.
Consequently, while we whole heartedly support the notion that the primary responsibility for implementing the HABITAT Agenda rests with each State, we are also of the considered view that an enabling environment is essential at the global level if member States are to effectively implement the HABITAT Agenda.
How can Member States effectively implement the HABITAT Agenda in an environment of overburdening external debt and poverty; an environment in which access to international market is restrictive; an environment in which the requisite new and additional resources to the implementation of the HABITAT Agenda are not available?
The HABITAT Agenda itself is full of recommendations as to what needs to be done at the international level to ensue its effective implementation. We support these recommendations and we believe that the international community does also support them, otherwise commitment to the HABITAT Agenda becomes academic.
It is our hope that the globalisation that is taking place now will
be part of the enabling process rather than a process that stifles and
overwhelms local initiative.
Zambia supports all efforts aimed at strengthening the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT) so that it can effectively play its assigned role in the implementation of the HABITAT Agenda.
We, therefore, welcome the appointment of Mrs Anna Tibaijuka to the position of Executive Director of HABITAT. She brings to the Centre a wealth of experience which will enhance the performance of the Centre.
It is our hope that the Centre will now begin to receive the necessary financial support that it deserves through predictable and adequate funding to support its activities. We are also aware of initiatives by regional and other international Organizations supporting the implementation of the HABITAT Agenda. In this regard, we wish to welcome the Initiative by the Commonwealth.
Finally, Mr President, let me reiterate Zambia's commitment to the HABITAT Agenda and our resolve to implement it within our limit resources.