Global observance of World Habitat Day in 2020 occurs under the theme “Housing for all: A better urban future.”
The world over, development of cities and towns continues to occur at a rapid pace. The World Bank notes that about 50% of the global population currently lives in urban areas and this figure is projected to rise to 60% by 2030, by which time about a third of the city dwellers will be living in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.
For Africa, Africapolis (SWAC/OECD) projections indicate that more than 10 additional cities will surpass 5 million inhabitants by 2030. The question arises whether African countries will cope with such rapid urbanisation.
The rapid pace of urbanisation puts pressure on jobs, provision of basic services such as affordable housing, transport, and other basic infrastructure. Without proper planning, rapid urbanisation could result in urban sprawls, which will further put pressure on land and natural resources, resulting in undesirable outcomes such as increased greenhouse gas emissions. The challenge therefore is to ensure that the development of the current and new cities and towns is sustainable but our current planning models are inadequate.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable urban populations are even more at risk. National and local Governments are under pressure to fight the current health pandemic and at the same time make sure that these vulnerable communities are empowered in policy design and implementation. Addressing this challenge will require significant improvements in the ways that public services are managed to ensure that any recovery plans do not neglect the urban poor.
Recovery plans, which need to be inscribed in the long term, will have to ensure access to affordable shelter and WASH services especially for the urban poor. Africa’s Agenda 2063 aspiration 1 is for “A prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development” and seeks to attain “A high standard of living, quality of life and wellbeing for all citizens.”
This is a call not only to Africa’s leaders but to our collective responsibility. It is a collective battle where ownership values need to be enhanced.
Read More by Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki CEO, AUDA-NEPAD Subscribe: https://epaper.ippmedia.com