In conjunction with World Habitat Day today, StarTwo looks at award-winning projects that offer people a place to call home.
HALF of humanity now lives in towns and cities, and trends show that this figure will increase to two-thirds within the next two generations. Over one billion people are living in slums. What does the future hold for them?
Rapidly developing cities in countries like China face the challenge to ensure that its inhabitants have a roof over their heads and adequate facilities like clean water and electricity. This is also a pressing issue confronting historic cities such as Istanbul, London and Vienna, and developed countries such as Singapore and Japan.
World Habitat Day, as designated by the United Nations, falls on the first Monday of October (today). It is a day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. This year’s theme, Better City, Better
Life, highlights our collective vision of a sustainable urban world that harnesses the potential and possibilities, mitigates inequalities and disparities, and provides a home for people of all cultures and ages, both rich and poor.
While that sounds like a huge challenge in view of increasingly threatened human habitats around the world due to war and weather conditions, there are flickers of hope in projects around the world.
To honour the work of ensuring safe and comfortable accommodation for people around the world, the Habitat Scroll of Honour award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989.
It is the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. Its aim is to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of the homeless, leadership in postconflict reconstruction, and developing and improving human settlements and the quality of urban life.
Individuals, organisations, projects and Habitat Agenda partners were nominated for the Habitat Scroll of Honour. The criteria included the project’s impact, its sustainability and innovation.
“Typically living in developing countries, and largely powerless, disenfranchised and under the age of 25, the urban poor are too often condemned to a life without basic rights, hope of an education or decent work,” says UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon in a statement for World Habitat Day.
“Lacking adequate provision of fresh water, electricity, sanitation or health care, they suffer privations that all too often provide the tinder for the fires of social unrest. Vulnerable to exploitation and corruption, they need and deserve better cities and a better life.
“The challenges of urban poverty – from pollution to criminal gang culture – are not insurmountable. Many cities are finding successful solutions. Smart cities recognise the importance of good governance, basic urban services for all, and streets and public spaces where women and children feel safe.” The winners of the 2010 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award:
Vienna Municipality’s Sustainable Urban Renewal Programme is awarded for putting people and their views first in a model urban renovation programme. Under its so-called “soft urban renewal” drive that started in 1984, the city is careful to consult its residents on changes and take their views into account – rather than opt for the demolition of run-down neighbourhoods and compulsory relocation.
At the time, more than 300,000 dwell- ings – without toilets or water and sanitation – which made up 40% of Vienna’s housing stock were targeted for renovation. Under the multi-million dollar programme, sub-standard housing stock has been reduced to below 9% following improvements to more than 5,000 buildings with nearly 250,000 apartments.
The Kunshan Municipal People’s Government is awarded for an innovative approach to granting migrants the right to essential services in the city. Drawing some 800,000 job-seekers every year, Kunshan holds five employment fairs every week. In the last two years, it has helped more than 200,000 people get work, in a city where modern, new accommodation has increased per capita living space from 12sqm in 1999 to 40sqm today. The city also ensures that migrants have full access to pension, health and other social security schemes, as well as equal education opportunities, and the same rights to public services as local people.
The City of Medellin is awarded for the successful implementation of three programmes to reduce urban poverty, provide healthcare for children and give citizens a say in urban services. The poverty reduction programme has targeted 40,000 of the city’s poorest households. The health programme ensures that all children five and below have institutional, paediatric health care, while the third programme seeks to consistently survey the impact of city services to ensure that decisions taken have the right impact in the right areas.
The Government of Morocco
The Government of Morocco is awarded for delivering one of the world’s most successful and comprehensive reduction and improvement In a concept already Egypt and Tunisia, the programme, widely its kind in Africa, is Morocco’s Cities without
The Government 2004 of humanely clearing 85 cities by the year
Working with the and Urban Development Omrane, in the past improved or eliminated country’s slums which million people.
The cost of the programme come to 25 billion dirhams which the Government billion dirharms (US$
The Housing and (HDB) is awarded for world’s greenest, cleanest socially conscious housing For over half a century, growing population
part in Singapore’s Today, more than Singaporeans live in more than 9 in 10 of
in which they HDB and Singapore when it comes to thinking various sectors of society the elderly, or disabled, to develop housing cater to their needs.
The Johannesburg Company (JOSHCO) tens of thousands units, improved basic services to poor
As part of an exemplary on community development has converted former hostels, derelict inner some slum districts
Organising youth programmes, clean-other activities as part plan, JOSHCO teams like violence against youth; the family; early
and measures within communities.
comprehensive slum improvement programmes. already being replicated in Tunisia, the Moroccan
widely considered the best of Africa, is spearheading Cities without Slums drive. Government had set a target in humanely clearing the slums in the year 2012. with the Ministry of Housing Development and its agency Al
past decade it has eliminated 45.8% of the slums which are home to 1.6
the programme has so far billion dirhams (US$2.86bil) of Government has allocated 10 dirharms (US$1.1bil)
and Development Board awarded for providing one of the greenest, cleanest and most conscious housing programmes.
century, HDB has housed a population and played an integral Singapore’s nation building.
than eight in 10 live in HDB apartments and 10 of them own the apartment they live. Singapore are global pioneers to thinking of the needs of of society – young couples, disabled, to cite a few, and housing and surrounds that
Johannesburg Social Housing JOSHCO) is awarded for providing thousands of affordable housing improved living conditions and to poor families. exemplary project based development since 2004, it former male-only mine derelict inner city buildings and districts into liveable homes. youth days, sports clean-up campaigns and
as part of its development teams focus on priorities against women and children; family; early childhood development; measures to reduce crime
Creative use of building materials: A low-cost housing structure in downtown Johannesburg. Experts say the solution to South Africa’s housing crisis lies in empowering those who live in informal settlements and giving them a say in reforms.
A worker putting the finishing touches to the Engineering building at Eafit University in Medellin, Colombia. The city of Medellin has successfully implemented programmes to reduce urban poverty, provide healthcare for children and give citizens a say in urban services.
The Singapore Housing and Development Board is awarded for providing one of the world’s greenest, cleanest and most socially conscious housing programmes.