Ruto drums up support for affordable housing at UN Habitat Assembly

President William Ruto makes his remarks during the Second Session of the UN-Habitat Assembly at Gigiri on June 5, 2023. [PCS]

President William Ruto has drummed up support for the affordable housing project.

Speaking during the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Gigiri on Monday, June 5, President Ruto said the progress in affirming the fundamental right to decent housing is critical to the achievement of sustainable urbanization in terms of SDG No. 11.

Last year Ruto detailed his plan to deliver 200,000 housing units annually that will heavily rely on counties’ backing and how attractive the private sector will see the business environment.

He said his administration was drafting a programme that will rope in the private sector and county governments on developing affordable houses. The programme will also detail how finances will be made available for Kenyans to access mortgages.

While affirming that the housing plan was not by default or accident but by design, Ruto said his administration will however ensure that the housing project does not compete with agricultural land.

And at Gigiri Ruto said that recognising this imperative and realising that more than half of Kenya’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, his government has integrated universal housing as a critical pillar of the national bottom-up economic transformation agenda.

“Into the housing programme, we have further mainstreamed sustainable urban practices of green building, green spaces, adoption of low-carbon energy use, including low-carbon transport solutions, as well as urban agriculture and effective waste management,” he said.

President William Ruto with UN top executives during the Second Session of UN-Habitat Assembly at Gigiri. [PCS]

He said urban centres have always held the most intense concentrations of both the best and the worst human possibilities of wealth and poverty, well-being and suffering, dignity and misery.

As a result, they are also the theatres of the starkest inequalities in human opportunities and outcomes.

“The explosion in global populations as well as urbanisation, has immense implications for global production and consumption, with humanity poised firmly between trends and practices likely to overwhelm the planet’s capacity to support life on one end, and clean, green, efficient and abundant sustainability on the other end,” Ruto said.

According to him, in addition to measures under the urban resilience programme, his government is restoring degraded landscapes and ecosystems through a robust programme, which includes increasing Kenya’s tree cover from 12.13 per cent currently, to 30 per cent by planting 15 billion trees over the next 10 years.

“Our capacity to coherently pursue these vital objectives has been significantly bolstered by the government’s policy to mainstream sustainable development goals generally, and more pertinently, number 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and number 13 on climate action, into national development planning and implementation,” he said.

Participants follow proceedings during the Second Session of the UN-Habitat Assembly in Gigiri. [PCS]

Ruto said sufficient and affordable financing impediment remains a key barrier to our aspirations for sustainable urbanization and climate action.

He said as a result, many  African countries are unable to effectively pursue all the opportunities in sustainable urbanization and leverage them to promote the broader agenda of economic transformation, climate action and sustainable development.

“Our discussions must therefore pay due attention to the fact that the prevalent unjustness of the international financial architecture, and the discriminatory practices inherent in development financing, are iniquitous insofar as they, directly and indirectly, exacerbate the vulnerability of the majority of humanity,” he said.

Ruto further said it is time therefore to correct systemic injustice to enable countries to effectively mobilise multilateralism to achieve global net-zero emissions, avert a climate catastrophe and achieve sustainable development goals.