Thursday, 6 December 2012

World Habitat Day 2012

Housing Cooperatives and CSO’s in the housing sector celebrate World Habitat Day 2012

The Uganda Human Settlements Network (SSA: UHSNET), in conjunction with Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) celebrated this year’s World Habitat Day on Saturday the 27th of October in Mukono- Seeta. Presiding over the function, was the Director of Housing in the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, Ambassador Agnes Kalibala. The objectives for the celebrations included reflecting on the state of our cities and towns and the basic human right to adequate shelter. It also envisaged some of the good practices done by communities towards adequate housing and reminding ourselves of the collective responsibility for the habitat of future generations.

Housing cooperatives preparing for exhibition

The celebrations started with a hazy day, fortunately that did not stop housing cooperatives and community groups who wanted to showcase their practices on housing development and livelihood support. Indeed by 8am exhibitors had started organizing their masterpieces to showcase.

By 9am participants were ready to take it to the streets of Seeta with a band and posters to create an interest in the communites to take part in the event. The marching was joined by children, students and elderly.

When the guest of honour arrived at 10 am she was guided to plant a fruit tree in one of the school compounds as had been the practice to encourage and promote environmental friendly initiatives.

The guest of honour was then guided to observe and inspect exhibition stalls. With expectation and excitement exhibitors stood eagerly waiting for the director to admire their display. Looking stunned as she visited stall by stall, the director attended each stall as shown below in photos getting to know stories behind each group exhibiting.

One of the housing cooperatives showing the director photos of their future planned houses

Slum dwellers showcasing their innovative solar light bulbs using water bottles

Uganda builders showcase their housing technologies using interlocking blocks

Who says comedy dramas are only for “Kato Lubwama’s” (Comedian in Uganda)! The celebrations continued to unfold with humour. On stage was the drama team from cooperatives who painted a picture of what happens when one lacks adequate housing. A ripple of excitement spread through the crowd as the young man in the drama uses his ploy to sleep with all women in the community on false hopes of paying their rent dues.

It was now time to address participants on key pertinent issues behind the event. The Coordinator for HCDP from UCA, opened with a statement addressed to participants and the guest of honour representing government. In her remarks she called for more support and partnerships with government to steer housing development through cooperatives.

On behalf of the Executive Director for SSA:UHSNET, the project officer also gave remarks during the event. He stressed how the sector lacks learning models to accentuate affordable housing practices. He also called upon stakeholders to join the network and form more synergies to advocate and lobby for access to decent and affordable housing in the country.

The session ended with a statement from the guest of Honour Amb Agnes Kalimbala, Director for Housing. In her opening remarks she noted that half of the world’s people live in cities and in a little more than a generation, two thirds of the global population will be urban. As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment increases, how is this growth going to be taken care of without compromising the countryside? Amidst winds of poverty, the high demand for housing and increasing cost of land, etc.

She also said that Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development is having arrangements with KCCA to review building codes. The ministry is also working on the Housing policy, construction of houses for public servants and re-shaping and embracing the housing cooperative model. Moreover, worked is carried out together with Makerere University and Kyambogo to research better building technologies/ practices. The guest of honor recognized and stressed the importance of both local and global partnerships in the face of confronting the challenges of shelter rights, accessibility and provision.

The function ended with a remarkable display of young students from host primary school with songs reflecting on how good housing can improve their future. 

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