Monday, 24 October 2016

The largest housing scheme in Afghanistan’s history is underway

The Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Afghanistan, Mr Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, said the largest housing scheme in Afghanistan’s history is underway as he noted Afghanistan is amongst the fastest urbanizing country in the world. Speaking during UN’s Monumental Habitat III Summit in Ecuador, Minister Naderi said “. Our urban population is increasing at 4 percent per year, which means that by 2030 we will double our urban residents. Urbanization presents enormous opportunity alongside the responsibility to prepare our cities to meet the aspirations of our citizens.” Naderi further added that Afghanistan’s urbanization trajectory is unique. “We are embarking on a path to reverse the three decades of destruction and abandonment that has come to define our cities. The single most challenge that is pervasive across Afghan cities and our country – is the migration crisis. By the end of this year alone, one million Afghans will be on the move. Just by September this year, 350, 000 Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons have either returned or are dislocated from their homes.” Emphasizing on his vision “to achieve dynamic, safe, livable urban centers that are hubs of economic growth and arenas of culture and social inclusion”, Naderi said “We are pushing new frontiers each year. I am proud to say that the largest housing scheme in the history of our country is underway. Of a total 16,500 affordable housing development project, more than one-third have already been constructed.” He also added “We are promoting gender sensitivity in our urban programs. This year I inaugurated housing project and distributed occupancy certificates to women and men.” According to Naderi, Afghanistan is a young nation and nearly 80 percent of the population is below the age of 35 years, insisting that the Afghan youth add to the vibrancy of cities, and create an atmosphere of optimism and hope. “This also implies that we have to create almost 400,000 new jobs every year for the young entrants to the job market,” Naderi said, adding that “In my tenure, I have focused on finding opportunities amidst crisis. We have pledged to transform urban governance and institutions through actions. Under my leadership, we have increased the share of young, motivated, and high caliber professionals within the urban sector.” Pointing towards three-core principles of inclusive growth, participatory approaches and transparency and accountability forming the urban sector’s policy and programmatic priorities in his administration, Naderi said “Focus on coordination, accountability, and monitoring has brought several changes; a National Urban Council, under the President has been established.” Minister Naderi also emphasized on the importance of job creation and said this and can be facilitated through creating an investment-friendly environment for the private sector to engage in revenue generating projects. Practical steps, such as developing a national program for special economic zones and preparation of zoning in cities have already been taken, he said, adding that a private sector engagement mechanism is outlined in the U-NPP.

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