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Politics of Friday, 31 January 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

'We Are Working On Sustainable Urban Dev't'

Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Director, Regional Office UN/Habitat for Africa, speaks on her trip to Cameroon.

You have been in Cameroon and precisely at the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, what is your mission in the country?

The objective of our mission is to strengthen our collaboration with the government and other partners with whom we have been working in Cameroon up to now. We have been working with the government and partners on sustainable urban development in Cameroon. The government has been actively participating in different activities carried out by UN-Habitat including our conferences such as that for African Ministers on sustainable Urban Development amongst others.

We know that the government of Cameroon is very committed to also participate in events organised by UN-Habitat so that they will be able to share their experiences, learn from others as well as create partnerships. I am very encouraged by the commitment of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and what its partners have put in.

What is the content of the MoU signed with the government on Habitat III?

We had talked about the National Urban Forum which is under preparation and also the creation of National Habitat Committees. We are now moving towards Habitat III in 2016 and from UN-Habitat perspectives. We expect to have a national report which is looking at progress made during the last twenty years and also the challenges and way forward as part of the National Report for Habitat III.

We are very happy to see that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has already started with the creation of National Habitat Committees so that the country is represented in participatory approach which includes all relevant authorities and ministries in the preparatory process of its own National Habitat Report, but also in its reporting on sustainable urban development and housing.

Cameroon has several engagements with the UN Habitat, especially on the improvement of urban centres, what has such cooperation brought to the country?

UN-Habitat is a partner to the government in its commitment is to move towards safe and secured cities. It is important that safety and security is part and parcel of the management of any city. Safety for UN-Habitat is a broad issue. One cannot talk of safety when there is no security of property.

One cannot be safe when there are crimes and violence or disasters. This is a broad issue and we are working in over twenty cities in Cameroon, developing their profile and identifying that which is needed to make the cities safer and secured.

Can we know what the campaign, «I am a city changer » to be launched in Yaounde is all about?

The campaign will be initiated this year because I strongly believe every individual that stays in the city has the right and responsibility to contribute to the development of the city. We are looking at well planned cities, resilient cities but also safer and inclusive cities.

The campaign is a global movement to share and spread individual, corporate and public initiative, improve urban living conditions and support sustainable development. It gives an individual as well as collective responsibility in developing a city while keeping it clean.

While in Cameroon you also visited other partners such as FEICOM, how would you appreciate their work?

We are very impressed with the knowledge our partners have about their duties as well as their commitments to make a difference. We are happy with the work they are doing and we really appreciate their efforts especially with government's implementation to create public space.

A good job has been done setting up local councils. We are pleased with our partners in council programmes because they are already making a difference.