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By 2030 Africa will change
from rural to urban society

By Tann vom Hove, Editor

5 February 2005: Urban poverty is one of the biggest challenges facing African countries. According to UN-Habitat, currently two-thirds of Africa's urban population live in informal settlements without adequate sanitation, water, transport or health services. The Nairobi-based organisation projections indicate that Africa's population will cease to be a predominantly rural in 2030. Africa's urban population is increasing at above three per cent, and in just a decade, 40 per cent of Africa's people will live in urban areas, most condemned to slums and shanties.

UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Mrs Anna Tibaijuka told the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development, which was held in February 2005 in Durban (South Africa), that these figures harshly drew attention to the fact that the majority of city dwellers were widely doomed to live in poverty and also in poor environmental conditions. “African countries were poorer now than they were in the early 1960s, partly because the continent had been not been integrated into the world trade system on favourable terms,” she added.

Mrs Tibaijuka said that urban poverty was the cause of many social ills and threatened to break up the social fabric of African communities. “Slums are places where hunger prevails, and where young people are drawn into anti-social behaviour, including crime and terrorism, for lack of better alternatives,” she warned.

South Africa's Deputy President, Mr. Jacob Zuma reminded the Durban Conference that the existence of shack inhabitants and slum settlements on the continent remained a constant reminder that we had not fully achieved the goal of restoring the right to human dignity to all our peoples. “We cannot ignore the indignity suffered by families living in shacks with no ablution facilities and no sanitation, no water, electricity or any other basic services we take for granted ourselves,” Mr Zuma concluded.

Mrs. Tibaijuka, who is one of the 17 members of the Commission for Africa set up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, assured the ministers and leaders attending the conference that she would bring their concerns to the attention of the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G8), with urban poverty topping her list of priorities. Member countries of the G8 are Russia, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, the USA and the UK.

World Mayor 2023