Human Settlements Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has unveiled a global plan aimed at dealing with informal settlements and slums.
The Global Action Plan Framework on Informal Settlements and Slums consolidates and heightens efforts to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) in the Decade of Action.
The Global Action Plan Framework initiative is anchored in the Slums and Informal Settlements Network (SiSnet), launched during Habitat III in Quito as part of the global Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP).
The Global Action Plan Framework aims to take coordination, collaboration, commitments and partnerships to the next level. It also provides a joint vision to inform actions framed by partnerships, and is the basis for Member States to elevate commitments in form of a resolution to be pledged in the UN-Habitat Assembly process.
Breeding ground for social ills
Speaking at the launch of the Global Action Plan Framework held at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria on Sunday, Kubayi said in South Africa, the apartheid spatial development of cities is characterised by segregation, and it continues to weigh heavily on the development pattern of the country.
She said the majority of South Africans, who are now urbanising at a rapid rate, find themselves relegated to slums and informal settlements, as they fail to find decent dwelling in the cities that are unwelcoming for the poor.
“The slums and informal settlements are a breeding ground for social ills and the burden is often carried by women, girls and children. These settlements often lack basic services such as sanitation facilities, health, education and recreational facilities,” Kubayi said.
The Minister said South Africa embraces the UN Habitat III Pretoria Declaration on Informal Settlement Upgrading, signed in South Africa in 2016. The declaration recognises that informal settlements must be addressed through an integrated approach to sustainable urban development, taking into account the national policy frameworks, legal, financial resources and spatial issues.
“In South Africa, we have learned that upgrading can have a profoundly positive effect on social cohesion, resilience, and safety, especially when there are targeted interventions to protect vulnerable women, youth, children, the elderly and the disabled.
“We have also learned that when we involve the community in their development, they respond and adapt more positively to change. Thus, our approach to Upgrading Informal Settlements Programme has evolved to entail extensive community participation and consultation in the provision of emergency basic services, permanent services, and security of tenure,” the Minister said.
She said the launch of the Global Action Plan Framework on Informal Settlements and Slums is a great milestone in the preparation for the development and tabling of a Global Action Plan at the United Nations’ Habitat Assembly in 2023.
SA’s commitment to transform informal settlements commended
UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, expressed her gratitude to the Government of South Africa for continuing to champion the call “Cities for All”, through its commitment to positively transform informal settlements and slums.
“As you know, the New Urban Agenda provides 53 entry points to slum and informal settlements transformation, but we need leadership and investments to translate policy into positive action on the ground,” Sharif said.
She warned that if no transformative action is taken, it is estimated that by 2050, there will be three billion people living in slums or roughly an increase of 183 000 people every day.
Threats to SDGs
Sharif said with the triple Cs – COVID, Climate and Conflict – the SDGs are further away than ever before.
“This Global Action Plan: Accelerating the Transformation of Informal Settlements and Slums by 2030 aims at creating a new momentum for slum transformation at scale. We need to take transformative action to end the marginalisation of people and places through spatial integration.
“We need serious commitment by Member States to improve the standard of living for all. We must not only ‘mind the gap’ but [also] create action plans and approve budgets to ensure “no one and no place is left behind,” the Executive Director said.