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Habitat Day: UN seeks urgent measures to save 1.6bn from overcrowded settlements

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As the World marks Habitat Day, the United Nations has called for urgent measures to rescue about 1.6 billion people from living in overcrowded settlements by 2030.

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guteress, in a video tweet on Monday, said that as at 2020, one billion people lived in overcrowded settlements due to the challenge of inadequate housing.

According to the UN scribe, it will take a daily construction of 96,000 houses across the world to stop the number from hitting 1.6 billion by 2030.

“This year’s observance highlights the centrality of housing as a driver for the sustainable urban development.

“Currently, one billion people live in overcrowded settlements due to inadequate housing. By 2030 that number will rise to 1.6 billion.

“Action is needed now to provide low income families and populations with affordable housing with security of tenure, access to water, sanitation and other basic services.

“To meet global demands, more than 96,000 housing units need to be completed every day and they must be part of the green transition.

“The urgency of improving living conditions has been brought to the fore by COVID-19 which has devastated the lives of millions in the cities,” he said.

Guterres noted that with the problem of water, sanitation as well as social distancing, implementing COVID-19 prevention protocols is further compounded.

He expressed worry that the condition also meant an increased risk of infection, not only within slums, but in all cities, many of which he said were being serviced by low income informal sector workers living in informal settlements.

“On World Habitat Day, in this crucial decade of action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, I call for heightened efforts to promote the partnerships, pro-poor policies and regulations needed to improve housing in cities.

“As we strive to overcome the pandemic and address the fagilities and inequalities it has exposed, and combat climate change, now is the time to harness the transformative potential of urbanisation for the benefit of people and planet,” he said. (NAN)

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