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Habitat, UN-HABITAT partner against poverty housing

Habitat for Humanity International and UN-HABITAT join forces to tackle poverty housing, disaster reconstruction

Organizations to sign agreement at World Urban Forum in Spain

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2004—Habitat for Humanity International and the United Nations Human Settlements Program announce the establishment of a formal agreement to address urban poverty and disaster relief issues in developing countries. The organizations will sign an Agreement of Cooperation Sept. 15 during the United Nation’s World Urban Forum, Sept. 13-17, at the Convention Center in Barcelona.

“This collaboration is an important step toward meeting the World Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of poor by 2015 and in improving living conditions among slum dwellers,” said Anna Tibaijuka, undersecretary, United Nations and executive director of UN-HABITAT. “From policy level decisions to the implementation of strategies,the combined experience of UN-HABITAT and Habitat for Humanity International will be a powerful force to meet the challenges of slum upgrading and providing decent housing in cities all over the world.”

Building on each organization’s experience in providing housing and shelter to people living in poverty conditions, the organizations will pool resources and expertise to upgrade slums, improve housing conditions and provide basic human services in urban areas, particularly in countries ravaged by political unrest and natural disaster.

During the forum, Habitat for Humanity International will conduct a workshop, “Housing for All in the New Millennium,” to examine global housing policy and advocacy. The workshop will pull together major players in the international housing arena to discuss the development of an international housing coalition.

With the rapid growth of urban areas around the globe, slum and poverty conditions have increased, especially in developing countries. According to a UN-HABITAT report, by 2001 the world’s slum population had grown to 924 million. In Ethiopia, for instance, slum dwellers represented 99.4 percent of the total urban population. In Afghanistan, more than 98 percent of the total urban population lived in slums, according to the report.

This agreement brings together organizations that not only have the capacity to help improve living conditions among the poor, but will have a huge impact on international housing policy,” said Tom Jones, vice president, Habitat for Humanity International. “Working together, we aim to place housing for low income people at the center of the international development agenda by addressing issues that perpetuate the cycle of poverty housing.”

Specifically, the agreement states that the organizations will work together to:

• Elevate housing issues in the international policy arena

• Construct and improve housing and provide basic human and sanitary conditions in slum and post-conflict areas

• Make needed infrastructure enhancements in slum and war torn areas

• Help build the capacity of local organizations to address poverty and housing needs in developing countries

• Collaborate on research efforts and data collection regarding the prevalence of slums and related poverty housing issues

• Increase global awareness of poverty living conditions through international training sessions, conferences and workshops.

Members of the media interested in attending the agreement signing, the housing workshop or interviewing Jones and/or Tibaijuka, contact Kathleen Moore at kmoore@hfhi.org or 202-628-9171, ext. 118.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. www.habitat.org

About UN-HABITAT
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, UN-HABITAT is the coordinating agency within the United Nations System for human settlements activities and focal point for the monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the Habitat Agenda, as well as the task manager of the human settlements chapter of Agenda 21 and responsible for promoting and consolidating collaboration with all partners, including local authorities and private and non-Governmental organizations in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020.