A high ranking official of the UN-Habitat Botswana Dr Thomas Chiramba has bemoaned the lack of urban planning in Africa, which he says has disadvantaged the continent and its people. “Urban planning in Africa has never been taken seriously,” said Dr Chiramba. He was speaking at a two-day workshop organised and hosted by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development in partnership with UN-HABITAT office in Gaborone on Tuesday. The worshop’s objectives were to raise awareness on and further to explore issues of how land readjustment and land value capture concepts can be contextualized in land tenure and land use planning in Botswana. According to Dr Chiramba, countries and people in general can only benefit from urbanisation if it’s well planned and well managed. He said developing a national urban policy is the first step, further explaining that a policy is a mini-mission statement, principles and rules that directs the direction of an entity. When officially opening the conference, The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Nonofo Molefhi, said following the Habitat III conference, Botswana has as a country, found it fitting to convene important platforms to ensure that all stakeholders from their respective fields have a common understanding on the New Urban Agenda. He pointed out that as acknowledged before, that housing is a basic need and is essential for dignified lives, Botswana also acknowledges and recognises that the National Policy on Housing ( NPH) seeks to ensure that all Batswana are adequately housed; and it also places more emphasis on channeling government resources on how income and vulnerable groups ensure no one is left behind in access to housing.
According to Molefhi, as a response to a resolution on Implementation and Follow up of the New Agenda which calls on nations to develop and implement action plans in an endeavor to integrate the NUA into their policies and development programmes and programmes, the National Habitat Committee met and produced the draft Action Plan and Communication strategy. “All these are positive efforts geared towards integrating the NUA into our national plans,” said Molefhi. The New Urban Agenda (NUA) is an urbanization action blueprint of the UNHABITAT and its partners such as governments, the United Nations, Civil Society, Communities, the Private Sector, Professionals, the Scientific and Academic community, in support of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development; especially SDG 11- “Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” SDG 11 also known as ‘Urban Sustainable Development Goal,’ calls on nations to build cities and human settlements that is inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In order to ensure adequate housing and sustainable settlements development, the global community adopted the NUA in October 2016, in Quito, Ecuador. This is a global plan of action on housing and sustainable urban development for the next 20 years. The NUA is intended to address the unfinished business of the Habitat Agenda, its predecessor that ran from 1996-2016, which include “Adequate shelter for all” and Sustainable Human Settlements Development in an Urbanizing World”. It is further worth noting in May 2017, the global community met again in Nairobi, Kenya for the 26th Governing Council, where Botswana was designated together with Tunisia to pilot the implementation and monitoring of the SDG 11 in Africa. As a signatory to the NUA, Botswana has therefore committed to ensuring that the ideals of this agenda are realised; hence a decision having been made to integrate and implement it at all levels across the country.